On Friday at the Palestra, Penn men’s basketball was able to repeat its result against Cornell from earlier in the season, winning by a score of 78-64. Despite a slow start in the first half that put the Quakers up by only three points at halftime, they were able to pull away in the second and maintain a comfortable lead until the end.
The game ended in the Quakers’ favor, but with their position in Ivy Madness still up in the air, they will need to stay focused going into their last game of the regular season. Here are some key takeaways from Friday's win.
Penn needs to play its first half like it plays its second half
The Quakers started off the night relatively slow, trading points with the Big Red. Though Cornell was never able to gain a lead of more than two points on Penn, the first half of the game was back and forth. The Big Red never let the home side pull too far ahead, however, and the score was 35-32 at halftime.
By the second half, this changed. By about four minutes in, Penn had a lead of about five points that it would never relinquish, eventually climbing into the double digits.
Heading into a crucial game against Columbia on Saturday, the Quakers will hope to keep their scoring up and their defense in check.
“From the defensive side, I would hope that we would be able to be locked in and play the defense we played in the second half in the first half tomorrow,” Donahue said. “The offense was more poised in the second half than it was in the first. [We] just [need to] come out of the gates a little better, a little sharper on both sides of the ball.”
AJ Brodeur is Penn’s rock
Twenty-two points, 10 rebounds, seven assists. Senior forward AJ Brodeur once again had a dominant night for the Quakers. Brodeur has been a steady asset for the Quakers all season, and Friday’s game was a testament to this.
His 22 points also brought him more than halfway towards the 38 he needs to beat Penn’s all-time scoring record. If he can score 16 points tomorrow, he will tie with former Quaker Ernie Beck’s record. Seventeen points will make him the new record holder.
As for whether the pressure of the Quakers’ last two home games, Brodeur hasn’t let it affect his play, and neither have his teammates.
“I love it. We’re no strangers to that type of atmosphere,” Brodeur said. “We’ve had [it] the last couple years. We had [it] last week. We embrace it. I feel like our best selves come out when the season truly is on the line, when we’re truly playing desperately when our lives depend on it.”
The Quakers must win tomorrow
Heading into its last regular season game, Penn is in a solid position to make the Ivy Tournament. In order to clinch an Ivy Madness appearance, the Quakers must win against Columbia on Saturday, or Brown must lose to Dartmouth.
If Harvard had beat Brown on Friday, the Quakers would have automatically clinched a tournament spot. But Brown was able to pull off a 64-55 win, which means that the Quakers’ fate is still up in the air. Should Penn and Brown wind up with the same Ivy record, the next tiebreaker is record against the League's winner, Yale, whom Penn has beaten once and Brown has not.
“We knew we had the chance, it was possible for us to clinch that spot tonight, but that doesn’t take away from [the fact that] we still have business to do, regardless of what happens, tomorrow,” Brodeur said.
A win against Columbia will also help Penn keep up its momentum heading into the Ivy Tournament. Friday’s win over Cornell extended the Red and Blue’s winning streak to two games, and a victory over Columbia will make it three. This sort of momentum is what Penn needs as it mounts an Ivy Madness run.
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