Following a grueling two weeks of basketball, the Quakers were unable to overcome the Towson Tigers (3-2), losing to them by a score of 76-61 in Maryland on Tuesday afternoon.
The game started out even, with the first points of the game coming courtesy of a driving layup by Penn (3-5) sophomore guard Jordan Dingle. Three pointers from sophomore forward Max Martz and junior guard Jonah Charles put the Red and Blue level with Towson at the six-minute mark.
Ten minutes in, the Quakers took the lead with a three-point jumper by Martz. This, however, was the only time for the duration of the game that Penn would be on top, as events began to go downhill for the squad from Philadelphia.
The Tigers began to pull away, scoring off of several turnovers. Fourteen minutes in, Penn had ten turnovers, leading to a flurry of Towson points. The Quakers seemed loose with the ball, granting opportunities for Towson to score. By end of the first half, Penn was trailing by 11 points, with the score at 34-23.
“Towson took us from the beginning [and] played terrific basketball — very impressive. Unfortunately, we played one of our worst games in a long time," coach Steve Donahue said.
In the second half, Towson’s advantage extended, as it gained confidence in its offense, scoring the first seven points of the half. Despite the loss, Dingle put up a strong performance, notching 21 points for the Quakers, continuing a hot start to the season for the Valley Stream, N.Y., native, who is now averaging nearly 20 points per game.
Towards the latter part of the second half, Penn began to make a comeback, reigniting some excitement in the game. The Quakers began to give the Tigers a taste of their own medicine, capitalizing on missed layups and a couple of turnovers. Freshman guard Eddie Holland contributed to this momentum, scoring his first collegiate points in the tenth minute of the second half.
But it was too little, too late. By the end of the game, the Red and Blue had 17 turnovers compared to Towson’s 10, a deciding factor in the contest.
Penn has had a packed schedule to start the season, playing eight games in the span of 14 days — three of which were over the weekend at Myrtle Beach.
“The kids played so well in Myrtle Beach — we played as good as anyone in the tournament," Donahue said. "I could tell pretty early on that this was going to be a struggle, partly because Towson plays really hard. They are not the team you want to play off of such a long trip full of games.
"We may look back and learn how hard we have to work and prepare for games, and we didn’t have that for long stretches today,” he added.
Eleven of the 19 players on Penn's roster had never suited up for an NCAA Division I college basketball game entering the season. Given this relative inexperience in terms of game time, it was important for the team to go through the rigorous schedule of the past few weeks and for them to face a strong opponent such as Towson.
“If we didn’t play, or played a weaker opponent at home, we would not get an understanding of how much better we have to get, how much work we have to put in,” Donahue said.
The Quakers came into the game shorthanded, with junior center Max Lorca-Lloyd relegated to the bench due to injury, forcing Penn to rely on freshman Nick Spinoso to fill in the role of rim protector.
“It may have been expecting a little too much to come and beat a team that is really physical and tough on their home court — we’ll learn from it and move on,” Donahue said.
After a quick break for Thanksgiving, the Red and Blue will be back in action at No. 13 Arkansas this Sunday at 4 p.m., where they will look to bounce back from a disappointing showing against the Tigers.