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Senior guard Antonio Woods was responsible for six of Penn's 18 assists in Friday's offensive explosion at Brown.

Credit: Nicole Fridling

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Behind a fast start and a stellar team effort, Penn men’s basketball took down Brown on the road, 92-82. In a game that never really seemed that close, the Quakers (14-7, 2-3 Ivy) opened up the game on a 13-3 run and never looked back. Here are three takeaways from the win.

Despite the score, the defense played well

When you give up 82 points, you don’t normally consider it a good defensive night. But Brown (13-8, 1-4) is one of the higher-powered offenses in the Ancient Eight, and for the most part the Quakers did what they needed to limit the scoring.

As one of the league’s top scoring threats, Brown’s Desmond Cambridge was always going to get his fair share. He ended the night with 21 points, but Penn made him work for each and every shot. Cambridge needed 21 shots to rack up those points, and every single one of them came with a hand in his face.

“I thought we played really well [defensively] for about 35 minutes. It happens a lot when you’re up 20 or 19, and a team is coming at you, and you’re trying not to foul. I thought we competed well, I thought we communicated great, I thought we made the shots difficult,” coach Steve Donahue said.

There were no easy looks for Cambridge or any of the other Bears. And in a league burgeoning with offensive talent, that’s exactly what the Quakers need to do to claw their way back to the top.

The offensive explosion happened because the Quakers started passing well again

“When we play well, we move the ball. We make good decisions.”

That was Donahue’s response to his team’s ball movement tonight, and it encapsulates a big chunk of the team’s offensive identity. With big men who work inside out and a reliance on the three-ball, Donahue’s squads are constantly looking for that extra pass to an open man. And when the Quakers kick into high gear, like they did tonight, it’s because of their ball movement.

The Red and Blue had 18 assists on 31 field goals, led by six from senior guard Antonio Woods. And those assists came in all shapes and sizes: cross-court feeds, give-and-gos, baseline passes, cuts to the basket, and more. The fluidity of the ball movement led to plenty of open looks from beyond the arc, and the Quakers took advantage, pouring in 13 threes on 52 percent shooting.

When the Quakers were struggling in December and January, a lot of it was due to a stagnant offense that stopped moving the ball around. But tonight’s win showed that they’ve gotten the rhythm back.

Devon Goodman has made the jump

Coming into the season, it was clear that the junior guard was going to need to take a big step forward if the Quakers were going to repeat as Ivy champs. Tonight proved he absolutely has made that leap, and then some.

Goodman was locked in from the opening tip, converting two steals on Brown’s first two possessions into easy layups. He was all over the floor all game long, stuffing the stat sheet with 21 points, four rebounds, three assists, and three steals. And he made some huge shots down the stretch, knocking down a corner three to stop a potential comeback run and responding from a blocked shot by making a tough and-one floater.

“Dev has been terrific. … He’s such a great defender, first and foremost. And now he’s just becoming a consistent half-court guard. I thought his passes were excellent tonight, shot the ball well, played with confidence,” Donahue said.

But what’s most encouraging for the Quakers is that Goodman is doing this on a consistent basis. Last year, his 23-point outburst against Columbia was his lone big game. But this year, he’s been one of the Red and Blue’s most dependable players on both sides of the ball. He has turned in solid performance after solid performance, and in doing so has quietly become one of the better players in the league.