PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team won its final non-conference game of the 2013-14 season on Saturday night, defeating NJIT 89-74 at The Palestra.
This was a game Penn probably could have put away a few times during the course of the night; the Quakers led by 23 at one point in the first half, and by double digits for most of the second half. However, NJIT -- the nation’s only NCAA Division I independent -- got within seven points with three minutes left before Penn finally put the foot on the gas one final time and scored 11 straight points to seal it.
Penn (4-11) scored the first seven points in Saturday’s game and was up by double digits before the contest was four minutes old. A nine-point run midway through the period pushed the Quakers’ lead from seven to 16, at 30-14, and it crested at 23 (45-22) with a little more than two minutes left before halftime.
NJIT (8-13) was able to finish the half strong, however, and scored 10 of the last 12 points before the break to send the teams to the locker rooms with Penn’s lead a little more precarious at 47-32.
The second half started sluggishly for Penn, and NJIT took advantage to score the first five points and make this a 10-point game. Hicks finally got the Quakers on the board with a pair of foul shots, and that was the start of an 8-1 run that put the Red and Blue up by a more comfortable margin, 55-38. The run was pushed by junior Henry Brooks, who knocked down mid-range jumpers on consecutive possessions for Penn’s first field goals of the second half.
NJIT refused to go away, though, and when Ky Howard hit a pair of foul shots with 4:25 to play the Highlanders were within single digits for the first time in the second half, at 72-63. Before Penn could even inbound, though, Jamal Lewis was fouled and he hit both of his shots at the other end.
NJIT’s Winfield Willis hit a shot that got it back to nine, at 74-65, and after a timeout Penn missed a shot, got the offensive rebound, then threw the ball away. NJIT ran the ball down the floor, and Willis was fouled as he drove to the hoop. He hit both of his shots, and that made the score 74-67.
Penn responded. Miles Jackson-Cartwright was fouled immediately on the inbounds and made both at the other end to up the lead back to nine, 76-67, and then a missed trey by NJIT was rebounded by Tony Hicks who found a streaking Fran Dougherty. He made the layup and was fouled, and though he missed the shot that made the score 78-67. Penn had another stop after that, and then Brooks laid one in to push the Quakers back up by 13, 80-67.
Hicks hit a trey on Penn’s next possession, and then after that Jackson-Cartwright hit two foul shots. That was the finishing touch on an 11-point streak that went unanswered by NJIT.
Hicks and Jackson-Cartwright ended the game with 23 points and four assists apiece to lead Penn; Jackson-Cartwright also had four steals, while Hicks had two blocked shots. Dougherty had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, while Darien Nelson-Henry had a double-double with 10 points and 11 boards. Amazingly, Nelson-Henry did not hit a field goal in the game; all of his points came at the free throw line where he was 10-of-13. As a team, Penn took 42 of the game’s 74 foul shots and made 35 of them.
For NJIT, Damon Lynn finished with 25 points while Howard had 16 and four assists. Montana Mayfield had nine points, six assists and two steals off the bench.
Penn will play only Ivy League games the rest of the way this season, starting next weekend when the Quakers are at Dartmouth Friday night and Harvard Saturday. Friday’s game will tip off at 7 p.m. in Hanover, N.H., while Saturday’s game will start at 9 p.m. and be televised nationally on the NBC Sports Network.
Game Notes: Penn scored 89 points, the most in the Jerome Allen era and the most since a 97-94 2OT loss to Delaware on Nov. 21, 2009 … Penn also set Allen-era highs in first-half points (47), free throws made (35), free throws attempted (42), and rebounds (46) … For the second time this season, Penn played in a game that had no ties or lead changes (the other was a loss at Villanova) ... For the second time in three games, Penn had a season-high +17 margin on its opponent in the rebound category … Penn tied season highs in 3-point FG made (10) and 3-point FG percentage (.556) … Penn’s 15-point halftime lead was its largest this season … NJIT shot 38.6 percent from the field, becoming the 12th of Penn’s 15 opponents this season to shoot below 45 percent … Penn had four players score in double figure for the first time this season … Senior Miles Jackson-Cartwright had 23 points, two shy of a season high, for his seventh double-figure scoring game this season and 59th at Penn … Jackson-Cartwright has scored 20 or more points three times this season and 16 times in his career … Jackson-Cartwright hit four more three-pointers; in Penn’s last nine games, he is 25-of-44 (56.8 percent) from beyond the arc … Sixteen of Jackson-Cartwright’s last 20 field goals have been threes … Jackson-Cartwright also set a career high with four steals; he had all of the Quakers’ thefts in the game … Sophomore Tony Hicks also scored 23 points, his team-high 12th double-figure scoring game this season and 27th at Penn … Hicks has scored 20 or more points three times this season and seven times in his career … Hicks has scored in double figures in five straight games (19.0 ppg) … Senior Fran Dougherty had his third double-double this season, with 10 points and 10 rebounds … Dougherty now has eight double-figure scoring game this season and 18 at Penn … Dougherty has 95 rebounds in Penn’s last 11 games (8.6 rpg), and has snared nine or more boards in eight of the Quakers’ last 10 contests … Sophomore Darien Nelson-Henry also had his third double-double this season, with 10 points and 11 rebounds … The 11 boards tied a career best for Nelson-Henry; he has done three other times in his career … Nelson-Henry led Penn in rebounding for the first time since November 22; he started the season by leading the Quakers in that category in each of the first four games … Nelson-Henry now has eight double-figure scoring games this season and 18 at Penn … The last time Penn had two players with double-doubles in the same game was Feb. 20, 2010 (Dan Monckton and Jack Eggleston against Yale) … this was Dougherty’s seventh career double-double, and Nelson-Henry’s fifth … All of Nelson-Henry’s points came at the foul line, where he was 10-of-13 … Junior Henry Brooks had nine points, a season high … Sophomore Jamal Lewis tied season highs in points (7) and rebounds (4) … Senior Dau Jok tied a season high with three points, while freshman Matt Howard tied a season/career high with two assists … Jackson-Cartwright now has 1,254 points for his career which is 19th in Penn history; he passed Phil Hankinson (1,236 points from 1971-73), Barry Pierce (1,245 from 1991-94), Jack Eggleston (1,248 from 2008-11) and Matt Maloney (1,248 from 1993-95) during last weekend’s game against NJIT. Perry Bromwell (1,265 points from 1985-87) is 18th on Penn’s all-time scoring list, while Joe Sturgis (1,292 from 1954-56) is 17th … All 11 players who dressed got in the game.