Through a holiday season marred with canceled matches across college sports, Penn men's basketball fulfilled 15 practices in preparation for its first league game at the Palestra.
The effort proved well-worth in the result as the Quakers (4-10, 1-0) finally snapped their six-game losing streak in their first Ivy League matchup against the Brown Bears (8-8, 0-1), winning 77-73.
The Red and Blue were also successful in defeating the Bears the previous time these two teams faced off against each other, on a final score of 73-68. With this win, the Quakers increase their overall record against the Bears to 27-12.
“We really wanted to compete at a high level and play the way we built this program offensively and defensively,” head coach Steve Donahue said. “We wanted to make really good decisions with the ball.”
Brown senior Jaylan Gainey won the tip-off against Penn junior Michael Moshkovitz, who finished the game with 16 points, five rebounds, and five assists in a strong performance.
The Bears scored the first points of the game with a second-chance layup made after obtaining an offensive rebound. Although the Bears were the first to score, the Quakers quickly tied the game with a layup from Moshkovitz to make it 2-2. The Quakers then took the lead with a three-point jumper from sophomore forward Max Martz.
Penn dominated the first half of the game and never gave up the lead. The Quakers' largest lead in the first half came after a free throw made by sophomore guard Jordan Dingle put Penn 14 points above. By halftime, the Red and Blue held a 10-point lead at 40-30 over the Bears.
“I thought we came out in the first half and played really well,” coach Donahue said. “Ball movement was good, defensive intensity was great.”
The Bears were first to score in the second half. They picked up their intensity from the first half, as they quickly shortened their deficit to within six points of the Quakers. But despite the Bears' increased intensity, the Red and Blue didn’t let the Bears gain momentum and went on a 7-0 run in 51 seconds of play.
The Bears continued to show persistence and were successful in cutting the Red and Blue’s lead to single digits multiple times. The shortest point deficit came with seconds left in the game when the Bears cut the Quakers' lead to two points.
Freshman George Smith had a night to remember leading the team in points with a career high of 23, which included two clutch three-pointers.
“We learned a lot about who we are today and we feel that there are things that we need to work on before our next matchup,” Smith said. “I liked how hard we played, and I’m sure that we can compete like this going forward.”
The Quakers were slated to be back in action against Howard University on Tuesday, Jan. 4, but due to COVID-19 protocols within the Bison program, the game has been canceled. Barring any more COVID-19-related cancellations, the Quakers' next game will be against Cornell on Friday, Jan. 7 in the Palestra.