There’s no escaping it — Penn men’s basketball choked in the end of its Ivy League Tournament loss to Princeton. Penn’s spirit looked remarkably shattered after the final whistle, but the players can go home with their heads held high.
The impossible dream has come true: Penn men’s basketball came back from the dead to make the first-ever Ivy League Tournament. But this story isn’t over.
After falling to last place in the Ivy League with an 0-6 start, Penn men's basketball was down in the dumps. Big time. But thanks to the new Ivy League Tournament, Penn was still not technically out. Outside Penn’s locker room, few gave the Quakers any chance, but this team persevered.
With an Ivy League tournament berth on the line, Penn defeated Harvard 75-72 after sophomore Jackson Donahue hit a game-winning three with just six seconds left. The shot gave Donahue his first and only points of the night.
This one was tough. With both teams still seeking bids in the first ever Ivy League Playoff, Dartmouth men's basketball proved to be just a little too much, defeating the Quakers, 76-74, in dramatic fashion.
With one final weekend of games remaining, the Quakers (12-13, 5-7 Ivy) have the opportunity to complete one of the most remarkable season turnarounds ever witnessed in Ivy League athletics. The teams standing in the Red and Blue’s way? Dartmouth and Harvard — two teams that Penn lost to earlier this year but will be hungry to avenge.
Amazingly, entering the final weekend in the Ivy League regular season, six teams still have a chance to make the NCAA Tournament. Two teams, Princeton and Harvard, have already clinched a spot in the Ivy tournament, and Yale is overwhelmingly likely to take third, leaving Penn, Columbia and Dartmouth to fight for the final spot.
In every previous season, senior night was the final game that the fourth year players on Penn Men’s basketball would play in the Palestra. But accepting that this weekend is his goodbye to the home crowd is not even on senior forward Matt Howard’s radar.
It was a huge weekend for some of Penn Athletics' brightest stars, as four student-athletes donning the Red and Blue took home Ivy League Player of the Week awards.
After serving as a power forward for the team for two years, Mike Auger left both the Red and Blue program and the University as a whole at the conclusion of the 2015-16 school year. Now working as a leasing specialist for Hamilton Court apartments, the 6-foot-7 would-be junior has left his athletic career in the dust.
So, despite the loss, the Quakers have a lot to be proud of from this game. It’s now time for them to channel that pride into improvement and to win the next two games against Dartmouth and Harvard in hopes of securing an Ivy League Tournament bid.
Penn men’s basketball came tantalizingly close to securing a spot at the Ivy League Tournament over the weekend with a thrilling 69-66 victory at Cornell, but failed to free itself from the pack after falling to Columbia the following night, 70-67. A win in New York City couldn’t have guaranteed the Quakers (12-13, 5-7 Ivy) a place in the inaugural postseason tournament, but it would have made it highly likely.
Behind a superb all-around performance from freshman Ryan Betley, Penn overcame a series of Cornell runs to win 69-66 in a game that came down to the final seconds. he Quakers (12-12, 5-6 Ivy), as they have been known to do recently, started the game out strong, opening up a 7-2 lead in the opening minutes.
Hope has blossomed into opportunity for Penn men’s basketball, but the Quakers still have to seize it. Two weeks ago, hope was the only thing the Red and Blue (11-12, 4-6 Ivy) had: at 0-6 and last place in the conference, they seemed all but eliminated. Since, Penn has looked unstoppable in four straight wins, three of them wire-to-wire. Now, the fourth-place Quakers have an opportunity to play their way into the Ivy League tournament and a potential NCAA bid.
First would be head-to-head. Penn won the first meeting between the two teams as it kickstarted its comeback in the league from rock bottom to fourth just two weekends later — but the two teams meet again this Saturday in a high-stakes clash at Columbia. If the Lions were to win, but still end the season on the same record as the Quakers, the scenario would have to go to the next tiebreaker.
With just a few weeks left before the inaugural Ivy League Tournament for both men's and women's basketball, both of Penn's squads will have meaningful games to come.
Freshman Ryan Betley is currently playing the best basketball of his young career, and by no coincidence at all, Penn is enjoying its best stretch of the season.
The rookie sharpshooter played the game of his life on Friday, scoring a career-high 28, including six three-pointers at a remarkable 60 percent accuracy. He also registered seven rebounds and four assists.
Coming off a sweep of the New York schools last weekend, the Red and Blue kept their momentum going with a pair of dominant performances, blowing out Brown, 96-72, on Friday before upsetting third-place Yale, 71-55, two days later. With the wins, Penn has remarkably clawed back into fourth place in the Ivy League after being four games off not even two weeks ago.
The closest thing I can compare it to is what Liverpool FC manager Jürgen Klopp calls “Heavy Metal Football” — and well, ladies and gentlemen, what the Quakers have finally worked their way into is Heavy Metal Basketball.