PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania men's basketball team fell victim to a first-half scoring drought that allowed Saint Joseph's to jump out to a double-digit lead before halftime. The Quakers never recovered, ultimately falling to the Hawks, 79-59, in the annual Palestra tussle Saturday afternoon.
Penn fell to 3-14 overall and is 0-3 in Philadelphia Big 5 play, with Temple on the horizon. Saint Joseph's improved to 10-6 overall, 1-1 in the Big 5.
Playing in front of yet another sellout crowd of 8,722 -- as much a part of the tradition of this rivalry as anything -- Penn's play was vastly improved from its performance two nights ago at NJIT, a game the Quakers somehow won. On Saturday, Penn committed just 10 turnovers (compared to 26 at NJIT) and held its own on the boards against a big, athletic SJU squad, losing the rebounding battle 39-32. The Quakers shot a respectable 44.1 percent in the second half, as well.
However, this game was put away in the final 10 minutes of the first half.
Penn was down just 17-15 when Miles Cartwright scored on a jumper, and then nearly three minutes went by without either team scoring before Patrick Lucas-Perry laid the ball in to tie the score at 17-17 with 7:39 to play.
Penn would not score an actual basket again until just 50 seconds remained before halftime.
Saint Joseph's took advantage. The Hawks scored 11 unanswered points, led by a pair of three-pointers from Langston Galloway. Darien Nelson-Henry finally ended the skid for Penn with 1:47 left -- his layup was rejected by C.J. Aiken, who was called for goaltending -- but SJU came back with four more points to go up, 32-19. Nelson-Henry then actually made a layup to end the slide for the final points of the half.
The two teams traded points for the first nine minutes of the second half, but a 10-1 SJU run covering a 2:16 span pushed the Hawks to a 20-point lead (57-37) with 9:39 to play. The run was punctuated by a Ronald Roberts slam off a missed Galloway trey.
The freshman Nelson-Henry more than held his own against Aiken and the rest of the Saint Joseph's bigs, scoring 17 points and snaring seven rebounds. He was the only Penn player to score in double figures. Cartwright had nine points, five boards and four assists, while Tony Hicks and Henry Brooks had eight points apiece.
For Saint Joseph's, Roberts finished with a double-double (16 points, 12 rebounds) while Galloway was one board shy of a double-double (20 points, 9 rebounds). Carl Jones added 15 points.
Penn closes out its Big 5 schedule on Wednesday night at Temple, playing the Owls in a game that tips off at 7 p.m.
Game Notes: Penn committed just 10 turnovers, a season low ... Penn took 65 shots, a season high ... Penn shot just 38.5 percent from the foul line (5-13), a team low in the Jerome Allen coaching era ... Saint Joseph's tied opponent season highs with 11 three-point field goals and eight blocked shots ... Freshman Darien Nelson-Henry scored 17 points, tying his season/career high, for his fourth straight double-figure scoring game (14.3 ppg) ... Nelson-Henry also had seven rebounds, giving him 18 in the last two games ... Penn played for the seventh straight game without leading scorer and rebounder Fran Dougherty, who is out due to mononucleosis.