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Senior guard Ryan Betley put up 13 points for Penn men's basketball in its final game of 2019, a blowout win over Howard.

Credit: Son Nguyen

While many students are at home celebrating the holidays, Penn men’s basketball had a game to win.

The Quakers handily defeated Howard by a score of 81-62 in a game played in the nation’s capital on Monday night. Penn played a solid game throughout, relying on stellar defense to coast to the win, as the team held Howard to just 34% on field goals.

The Red and Blue (7-4) were hot in the first half, heading into the locker room with a 16-point lead. Howard (2-12) played them closer in the second half, but the lead was too large for the Bison to overcome.

“I thought we were pretty consistent for most of the night, but I give them credit, they made some hard shots, [and] I thought we answered it really well,” coach Steve Donahue said. 

Even though rising star Jordan Dingle did not play in the game, a fellow freshman was able to pick up in his place. Forward Max Martz scored 22 points on 7-of-9 shooting to pace the Quakers, connecting on six three pointers. 

“Max has done a great job transitioning to college. He came in being a very confident scorer, and that’s what he is,” Donahue said. “He’s competed well on the defensive end, he rebounds well. He knows what is a good shot for him, and he’s taken advantage of it.”

While freshmen continue to impress for Penn, the Quakers still rely on the many veteran presences on the team. A trio of seniors scored in double figures on Monday afternoon, as Devon Goodman, Ryan Betley, and AJ Brodeur scored 15, 13, and 11 points, respectively.

Although the Quakers were surprisingly out-rebounded by a struggling Howard team, their ability to effectively distribute the basketball helped fuel their win. Penn tallied 21 assists, while the Bison managed only 10. The Quakers' quick ball movement has been a theme of the team so far this season. 

As the Red and Blue make their way back from Washington, they will immediately begin to prepare for one of their biggest rivals, Princeton. The Quakers will face the Tigers at the Palestra on Saturday as well as on Jan. 10 at Princeton. 

In one of the more storied rivalries in the Ivy League, Penn has lost the last two meetings and is looking to get back on track. While Princeton currently sits at a lowly 4-8, it is coming off of three wins in its last four games.

“This is the fun part of the year," Donahue said. "You start playing League opponents and archrivals. These are the things you build for."

As the Quakers begin conference play, wins against Princeton could be important down the line as they look to contend for the Ivy League title. The home court advantage may not be as prevalent in the first game, however, as most Penn students will be away from campus as winter break continues. 

“In a lot of ways [the season] has been pretty amazing with all the injuries we’ve dealt with, not having Michael Wang at all and Jonah Charles being out for a long period,” Donahue said. “To play as well as we have and to beat the teams that we have and still get the younger guys a chance to get acclimated to college basketball, it’s all preparation for what’s going to happen over the next two months, and I’m really pleased with all of our experiences leading up to this.”

The Red and Blue will attempt to use their positive momentum from two consecutive blowout victories as they begin Ivy League play.