Penn men’s basketball looked to be well on its way to a sixth straight win late in the first half on Saturday, with the team leading by double-digits over Brown and controlling play on both sides of the floor. Then, things turned around very quickly, and the Bears were the ones able to cruise to a comfortable win. Here’s what we learned from a surprising and demoralizing Penn loss.
1. In the aftermath of this game, it will be easy to forget that the Quakers actually outplayed Brown for a pretty long stretch in the opening half. The Red and Blue led by a score of 35-24 with less than a minute left until the break. Freshmen Jordan Dingle and Max Martz were effective on offense, and senior forward AJ Brodeur was doing AJ Brodeur things en route to a 19-point, 15-rebound performance.
2. The reason the first half will be easy to forget is that everything came apart very quickly with less than a minute to go before the second half. Brown took the momentum with five quick points before halftime and was able to use that momentum to power a 28-4 run that spanned both halves. Once that happened, the Quakers were gassed, and there was no way for them to recover.
3. How did Brown turn things around so quickly? The matchup of senior guards Brandon Anderson and Devon Goodman might tell much of the story. Goodman couldn’t get much going on offense all game long, scoring only eight points in 37 minutes and shooting 3-of-10 from the field. Anderson was also able to take advantage of Goodman’s defense in the second half, driving past the Penn senior several times and scoring 31 points in total.
4. The Quakers’ chances moving forward might very well hinge on the performance of Goodman. Alongside Brodeur and the injured Ryan Betley, he has the most experience of anyone in the Penn rotation, and he needs to perform at an All-Ivy level (he made the second team last season) for the team to succeed. In the Red and Blue’s back-to-back weekend sweeps, Goodman played efficient offense and was able to lock down each opponent’s best guard on defense. On Friday, neither of those things happened, and the team struggled as a result.
5. It became clear in the loss that the Quakers need Betley to return, and fast. The Red and Blue were already struggling somewhat from three-point range with sharpshooters Michael Wang and Jonah Charles out for the season, and Betley was a reliable threat from both the outside and inside before his ankle injury last weekend. Without him, Penn shot just 22.2% from beyond the arc and 31.6% overall.
6. If you’re hoping to see more of sophomore guard Bryce Washington or freshman center Max Lorca-Lloyd, don’t get your hopes up too much. After the game, coach Steve Donahue discussed the possibility of shuffling around minutes among those currently in the rotation, but he didn’t seem committed to inserting players like Washington or Lorca-Lloyd back into the rotation to try to re-energize the team’s offense.
7. Penn’s path to the Ivy League Tournament just became much tougher. The Quakers are now tied with Harvard for fourth place in the Ancient Eight, and a loss to first-place Yale on Saturday would likely put them outside of the tournament picture entirely. The Red and Blue are still in a decent position, as a win over Harvard on the road next weekend would secure them the tiebreaker over the Crimson, but it’s difficult to rely on that happening, especially if Betley doesn’t return by then. Alternatively, Penn could benefit from a late season collapse from Brown or the suddenly struggling Princeton, but an 0-3 record against those teams so far makes the tiebreaker situation less friendly.
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