In its first matchup against Widener since 1935, Penn men’s basketball came up with the same result as last time: a double-digit win. The Pride were never able to put a real scare into the Quakers, who scored in triple digits for the first time this season.
Penn beat Widener by a score of 105-57 at the Palestra on Saturday. In a game that was almost all positive for the Quakers (6-4), there was also some bad news. Sophomore forward Michael Wang, who was expected to have a big role this year, will not play at all this season.
"Michael is home in China. He’s done," coach Steve Donahue said. "He’s going to need an operation on his knee, and he’s out for the year."
Widener's only loss this season coming into the game was against Lafayette, which also beat Penn. The Pride (10-2) are undefeated against Division III teams, and they received a number of votes to be ranked in the D-III top 25 last week.
Widener coach Chris Carideo threw everything at Penn. They opened the game in man-to-man, switched to a 2-3 zone after five minutes, and eventually started pressing. None of it mattered.
When Widener was in man-to-man, it couldn’t compete with Penn’s size inside. The team's tallest starter is senior forward Connor Laverty, listed at 6-foot-5. The Red and Blue finished the first half with 18 points in the paint.
When the Pride switched to a zone press, Penn carved it up with crisp passing and three pointers. Leading that charge was freshman forward Max Martz, who got his first collegiate start over junior guard Eddie Scott.
“Max [Martz] has played really well. I think Eddie [Scott] has played well, too, I just think Max has played really well over the past three weeks,” Donahue said. “He makes us a better team with his ability to compete on the glass and make shots when people help out on [senior forward] AJ [Brodeur].”
In the few minutes after Widener switched to a 2-3 zone defense, Martz hit two threes. Sophomore guard Bryce Washington added a third, and senior guard Devon Goodman added a fourth.
By the end of the first half, Martz was one point away from his career high of 17 points. He changed the game with his shotmaking and three offensive rebounds in the first half.
Senior guard Ryan Betley was in double figures as well, with 11 points, and Penn led 50-23 at halftime. The hosts never looked back.
With nine minutes left in the game, Penn had doubled up Widener, 84-42. By this point, only one starter, freshman guard Jordan Dingle, remained in the game, but the other players kept their feet on the gas. The Quakers actually scored more in the second half without their starters.
Keying their second half success was freshman guard Lucas Monroe, who finished the game with a career-high 13 points and a career-high 13 rebounds. It was his first ever double-double.
“I think [Monroe]’s a guy who, someday, could get a triple-double,” Donahue said. “He can really pass, he can rebound, he can score it, [and] he’s got a great IQ for his age.”
The Quakers have one more nonconference game before Ivy League play on Dec. 30 at Howard.
“We’re going to have to take another step when Ivy play comes around. Young teams don’t traditionally do too well in the Ivy League, just because of how different the game is from nonconference play,” senior forward AJ Brodeur said. “Making that transition is going to be crucial to our success.”
Though this was Brodeur’s lowest scoring output of the season, he was pleased with the effort. The Quakers will look to build on their success in their next few matchups, with two of their next three coming against archrival Princeton.