Penn men's basketball avenged a 75-71 loss earlier in the season with Saturday afternoon's 89-79 victory over Dartmouth.
The Quakers' (17-11, 9-4 Ivy) intensity on both sides of the ball was a continuation of last week’s dominant performance against Brown. They started out aggressive offensively, attacking the paint and executing excellent ball movement. This allowed for easy shots and a high field goal percentage to start off the first half.
However, Dartmouth (9-18, 5-8) slowly climbed back in the game and cut the lead to two points at the nine minute mark of the first half after a series of bad turnovers by the Quakers. In response, Penn forced a timeout and responded promptly to keep Dartmouth behind.
Luckily, an and-1 play by junior guard Jordan Dingle squandered Dartmouth’s run. At this point, Dingle started to take over, making multiple shots in a row — each one feeling like a dagger to the heart for the Big Green. He led all scorers at the half with 16 points.
His star backcourt partner, junior guard Clark Slajchert, joined in on the action and closed out the half with a couple of flawless jumpers. Throughout the half, the Quakers were able to rebound well, getting second chance opportunities and securing possessions. Dartmouth refused to go away, though — making nine three-pointers in the first half alone — leading to Penn only leading by eight at halftime.
The start of the second half featured a slightly more aggressive Dartmouth — but still one with no plans of cooling off from beyond the arc. Throughout this, Penn’s steady ball movement and physicality protected its lead. Both teams traded buckets to open the half with Dartmouth’s shooting keeping them in the battle. Interestingly though, both teams were fouling and full court pressing more often — adding to the extra physical nature of the game.
“They were hitting shots. Being on the court, it felt like every time they shot a three, it went in, which was annoying,” senior guard Lucas Monroe said. “When teams go on runs, you just gotta stay composed and we have an experienced room — it’s really a mental thing.”
Dartmouth cut Penn's lead to just three points with 9:27 left in the game after a tough scoring drought for the Quakers, leading coach Steve Donahue no choice but to call timeout. When play resumed, junior forward Max Martz dropped in a tough hook shot to bring life back into the Quakers. On the next offensive possession, sophomore center Nick Spinoso used his size and gained inside positioning on his defender, resulting in two easy points and a seven-point Penn lead. This pair of plays once again showed to the physicality of the overall matchup: Every bucket was hard-earned.
“If you ask me to describe a Penn basketball player, just look at [Martz]," Donahue said. "He goes hard in warmups and just competes at another level; he’s not afraid of the moment either.”
However, neither team was able to gain much traction over the other and the lead was within eight points for the Big Green with less than three minutes of regulation left. In crunch time, the Quakers were doing just enough to keep their lead.
The Quakers were able to close out the victory with a score of 89-79. Dingle finished with 27 total points — extending the Quakers' win streak to eight in a row and progressing for a chance at the Ivy League title. The Red and Blue will have their biggest matchup of the season yet on March 4 at 12 p.m. against Princeton — a sneak peek for what's to come in Ivy Madness.
“You get a chance now to compete and win a championship and hang a banner, and that’s kind of special," Donahue said, "That’s what the focus for this team has been."