The Quakers came in looking for revenge, but they were instead handed yet another crushing defeat.
One week after falling to Princeton in a heartbreaking overtime loss, Penn men’s basketball lost to the Tigers, 62-53, for the team’s fourth consecutive defeat and second of the Ivy League season.
The game was close early on due to strong defensive play from both teams. The Red and Blue (10-6, 0-2 Ivy) prevented the Tigers (9-5, 2-0) from generating open looks on offense, forcing Princeton center Richmond Aririguzoh to commit three turnovers in the first four minutes of the contest. However, the Quakers were unable to create scoring opportunities of their own, as they were forced to take several long-range and off-balance shots.
"Neither team got really good looks," coach Steve Donahue said. "I think both teams did a really good job of not giving up stand-still and in-rhythm threes."
Penn settled into the game in the middle of the half and seized the lead away from the Tigers. A 12-0 run highlighted by strong passing and three-pointers from senior guard Jackson Donahue and freshman guard Bryce Washington gave the Quakers the advantage.
Throughout this stretch, the Red and Blue were able to continue their impressive play on defense. Despite allowing nine offensive rebounds in the half, Penn held the Tigers to no field goals for over eight minutes. Junior forward AJ Brodeur was particularly key on that side of the ball throughout the game, totalling 12 rebounds, five blocks, and two steals.
A back-and-forth first half concluded with the teams deadlocked at 27 as the Quakers began to stall once again on offense. Penn only shot 36.7 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes, continuing a troubling trend that dates back to the beginning of the team’s now four-game losing streak.
"I think we settle and give in late in the clock, 10 seconds left," Donahue said. "We put ourselves in some tough spots to make hard shots. That’s settling and we can’t do that. It’s my responsibility to get these guys playing the way they can."
The Quakers fell behind at the beginning of the second half as the Tigers launched a balanced attack on offense led by Aririguzoh and guard Devin Cannady, who scored 17 and 20 points, respectively. Brodeur kept the Red and Blue in the game, scoring nine points in the first six minutes of the half.
Brodeur and senior guard Jake Silpe got into foul trouble, prompting frustration from a vocal and energetic Palestra crowd filled with alumni celebrating Penn’s 1979 run to the Final Four. Without Brodeur on the floor, the Quakers struggled mightily on offense, failing to generate solid looks with any regularity.
As the calls, which repeatedly angered the Penn crowd, continued, so did the Quakers’ shooting woes. The Red and Blue were held to 29 percent shooting from the field and 23.1 percent from behind the three-point line in the second half, preventing them from building any momentum. Even Brodeur struggled, missing several jump hooks inside as the game entered crunch time. With the Quakers forced to rely on his work in the paint, those misses were even more damaging.
"When [the Tigers] needed to execute, they executed," Donahue said. "We did not and that’s what we’ve fallen into during this four-game skid. We’re just not executing and playing like can on the offensive end."
Meanwhile, Princeton guard Myles Stephens caught fire, scoring 10 consecutive points for the Tigers to give them a seven-point lead with less than two minutes to play. A three-pointer for Washington energized the crowd and briefly gave the Quakers some hope, but late points by Cannady and Aririguzoh iced the game as the Red and Blue couldn’t get any more shots to fall.
"We’re not feeling good about who we are and the way we’re playing," Donahue said. "I think the guys are playing harder, but I told them that we’re not playing any better. We need to figure out a way to play better, and that’s technical, that’s personnel driven, and that’s coaching."
After a week to practice and recover, the Quakers will look to end their skid next Saturday against Temple as Big 5 play resumes.