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Penn forward Nick Spinoso posts up against Brown's defense on Feb. 18, 2023.

Credit: Michael Palacios

Penn men’s basketball entered its Friday matchup against Brown desperate to get its season back on track after dropping three straight Ivy League games. Despite this streak of losses, the Quakers still entered the weekend tied for fourth in the Ivy League, with four other teams knotted at 1-3. And yet, it was more of the same for the crestfallen Quakers.

In a back-and-forth contest, the Quakers ultimately weren’t able to keep up with the Bears, falling 70-61, making it the team’s fourth straight Ivy League loss. 

With just under four minutes left to play in the first half, things were looking dire for Penn (9-11, 1-4 Ivy). Down 11 points, it seemed like Brown (6-14, 2-3 Ivy) was going to drift comfortably out of Penn’s reach right off the bat. But after a perfectly-timed media timeout, it seemed the Quakers had finally found their groove.

After missing two free throws to start the game off, junior forward Ed Holland redeemed himself by sinking two free throws to spark a 14-0 run to close the half. The Quakers entered the locker room with a hard-earned three point lead.

However, this comeback meant nothing, as the Quakers got off to a slow start after coming out of the break. Throughout the entirety of the first half, the Red and Blue were able to put on a show defensively, holding the leading scorer in the Ivy League senior Kino Lilly Jr. scoreless. Lilly found his footing as the second quarter started while the Quakers ultimately fell flat. 

“We got nine straight stops. Our defense for the most part all night was good,” said coach Steve Donahue. “This game was 56-54 with 5:30 left to go, and it came down to the last 5 minutes, and I felt Brown executed very well, particularly Lilly. Our guys played really good basketball for the first 35 minutes on the defensive end, but our offensive execution finally caught up with us in the last five minutes.”

The Quakers being unable to come up with an answer to stop Lilly proved to be the difference-maker. Lilly would finish the game with 19 points — all of which came in the second half. An outstanding day from Holland, who recorded a double-double, while notching a career-high 18 points while also grabbing 11 rebounds, was not enough to close the gap between the two teams.

Three-point shooting, which is typically the bread and butter for Penn’s offense, was abysmal for the Quakers, connecting on just three of 21 attempts. The team also struggled at the stripe, making just over half of its free throw attempts. Getting out-rebounded by the Bears 44-39 also didn’t help with the team’s comeback attempt as it consistently gifted Brown with second chance points throughout most of the second half. 

The result comes as quite a disappointment to the Red and Blue, but the team can’t rest just yet. As Penn heads straight into the thick of Ivy League play, the Quakers are scheduled to take the court in less than 24 hours — this time against an undefeated Yale that is coming off of a thrilling win against Princeton. With just nine games left on the calendar, Penn’s road to the tournament isn’t done just yet, but it did become much harder. 

“On the mental side, as a leader, making sure our team is fired up to play,” said Donahue. “Get this bad taste out of our mouths, rest up, compete, and be determined to fix what we can do better … Particularly with a team as young as ours, you want to get them locked into this, and not think about what just happened, whether we won or lost, it’s not going to help us tomorrow

The Quakers will retake the court against Yale in New Haven, CT tomorrow at 7 p.m.