Two similar game scripts, two different outcomes.
One day after narrowly topping Dartmouth, 82-79, in overtime, Penn men’s basketball lost to Harvard in another overtime game by a score of 75-68. Juniors AJ Brodeur and Devon Goodman led the way for the Quakers with 23 and 22 points, respectively, while freshman forward Michael Wang — who didn’t play Friday against the Big Green — posted nine points, all in the first half.
The Red and Blue (15-9, 3-5 Ivy) opened the scoring on a three-pointer from Goodman and jumped out to a 8-2 lead, but Harvard (13-8, 6-2) had an answer in the form of junior Bryce Aiken, who hit two contested threes to keep things close. Harvard gained its first lead of the game with 3:10 to go in the half on a three-pointer by junior Justin Bassey and would take the lead heading into the half on another contested three from Bassey.
Harvard started the game 0-for-8 from the field and shot just 34 percent in the first half, but Penn didn’t fare much better, shooting 42 percent overall and just 21 percent from beyond the arc in the first half. Additionally, both teams struggled holding onto the ball in the opening 20 minutes. The Quakers had nine turnovers to the Crimson's eight.
"We had a ton of open looks. I thought we didn't try and force anything too much," coach Steve Donahue said. "For the most part, we drove it, we kicked it, and we had wide open shots that we just didn't make."
Both teams came out of the gate firing in the second half. The Quakers found a spark with seven points from Goodman in the first four minutes of the second half, but Harvard kept things close as Aiken and Bassey continued to drill contested shots.
"I've got to give Harvard credit. I thought we guarded them hard, but they continued to make extremely tough shots," Donahue said. "You don't win a game with 19 turnovers unless you have people making shots like [Aiken and Bassey.]"
With 11:34 left in the game, senior forward Max Rothschild threw down a rim-rattling dunk, and then senior guard Antonio Woods followed with an open three to stretch the Penn lead to six, its largest of the game at that point.
The teams continued exchanging blows before Aiken sunk a three-pointer to cut the lead to three with exactly a minute to play. Aiken scored the next bucket as well, drilling another deep, contested three-pointer with 5.6 seconds left in regulation to tie the game. The Quakers had one final shot in regulation, but Goodman wasn’t able to convert on a 10-foot floater.
After the game, Donahue indicated his intention to foul Aiken while up by three.
"In the scramble at the end of the game we had a chance to foul [Aiken], but we have to be very careful not to get hit with an intentional foul," Donahue said. "We talked about it, but we just didn't execute it the right way."
In overtime, Harvard struck first with a bucket by junior forward Chris Lewis, but Woods answered immediately by laying it in on the other end. The Crimson wouldn’t look back, however, as Bassey's three a few minutes later capped an 8-0 Harvard run that would win them the game.
The Quakers struggled from downtown, shooting just 7-of-28 on the day, and also turned the ball over 14 times. They struggled on the glass too, giving up 12 offensive rebounds to Harvard.
For Harvard, Aiken led the way with 25 points, while Bassey chipped in 19 points and 11 rebounds. Though the Crimson committed 19 turnovers, they were able to produce on offense when they needed to in the final minutes.
"It's everything to have [Aiken]. Not just the actual baskets he makes, but his presence gives our team a great deal of confidence," Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. "I think that's a part of his maturity that's probably gone unnoticed. And it rubs off and becomes contagious."
Goodman, who was matched up on Aiken for most of the game, emphasized that Aiken was the Quakers' main focus on defense.
"All eyes were on him defensively. He's a really good shooter so we try to make him drive to the lane a lot," Goodman said. "We tried to make him take a couple hard shots, but he made a lot of them."
Penn now sits at 3-5 in Ivy play, two games behind Princeton and Cornell, which are tied for third place in the conference. With the Ivy League Tournament looming, Goodman emphasized that the Quakers need to keep their heads held high
"We're confident going forward,” Goodman said. “Whatever happens, we know that it's on us to get the job done.”