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Sophomore forward/center Nick Spinoso drives to the basket ahead of Cornell defenders during the game at the Palestra on Feb. 4. Credit: Ellie Pirtle

Coming off a gritty 74-65 home victory against Columbia the day before, the Quakers (13-11, 5-4 Ivy), returned to the Palestra to face Cornell (15-7, 5-4). In a back-and-forth thriller, the Red and Blue bested the Big Red, 92-86, led by junior guard Jordan Dingle’s 27-point performance.

“Whenever it got a little messy, our guys responded with really good plays on both sides of the ball," coach Steve Donahue said. "The difference in us over the last month is that when we are not playing well on offense, we are defending and rebounding, and I thought that was a key tonight."

Penn was able to overcome early struggles on the glass to win the rebounding battle 48-37 but lost the turnover battle 14-6, and were outshot by 14 attempts — keeping them from pulling away earlier. While the Quakers shot an efficient 48% from deep, they struggled from the free throw line, only hitting 19 out of their 32 attempts.

“I was proud of the way that we fought through the messiness," Dingle said. "[Cornell] likes to play really aggressively, attack the ball, make the game a little bit hectic, and I thought we handled that really well."

Penn got off to a hot start offensively, albeit with poor rebounding, grabbing a 22-14 lead at the first media timeout. The Red and Blue shot 53% from the field, compared to the Big Red’s 35%, and went 4-7 from the three-point line.

From then on, the tides turned against the Quakers. The offense fell flat, stops became harder to come by on the other end, and Cornell used its advantage on the glass to put up 10 more shot attempts than Penn. The Big Red went on a 17-1 run in the five minutes following the timeout, while the Quakers went 2-9 from the free throw line, giving them a 31-23 lead. The Quakers struggled to stop Cornell senior guard Greg Dolan, who repeatedly drove through Penn’s defense to finish with 18 first-half points. Penn responded promptly, though, clawing its way to a 42-40 lead going into halftime.  

The second half picked up where the first left off. Both teams traded blows, and neither led by more than five for the first 10 minutes up until the media timeout, at which the game was tied at 62 points each.

When play resumed, Dingle came alive, and junior forward/guard Max Martz and sophomore guard George Smith hit key three-pointers to give the Quakers a 77-68 lead. However, whenever it appeared Quakers would take control, the Big Red kept fighting back by hitting crucial three-pointers of their own. Cornell's timely shots kept the margin within three, 89-86, with 36 seconds left to go.

By hitting their free throws, forcing a key turnover, and capitalizing on a missed layup by Cornell, Penn closed it out for its fourth consecutive victory.

“I think this was probably one of my better performances, at least statistically," senior guard Lucas Monroe said. "But sometimes I have games where you might not see some of the numbers, yet I think I make winning plays consistently, which is kind of what it’s all about, fitting in with the rest of the guys on the court."

With the victory, the Quakers are now tied for third in the Ivy League. They will take the court again next Saturday in Cambridge, Mass. against Harvard.