INDIANAPOLIS - The University of Pennsylvania men's basketball team gave No. 17 Butler more all that it could handle for a majority of Wednesday night's game at the Bulldogs' historic Hinkle Fieldhouse, but the Quakers could not make the winning plays down the stretch and ended up falling, 70-57.
Penn (2-10) got within two points of Butler with less than 15 minutes to play, and was within a possession down just three with less than nine minutes to play. At that point, however, the Bulldogs (11-2) got a layup from Roosevelt Jones that kicked off a 10-point, unanswered run from which Penn could not recover.
Penn was led in the game by junior Miles Cartwright, who had 15 points, while freshman Tony Hicks had his third double-digit performance of the season with 10. He was the only other Quaker to score in double digits.
Butler was led by Jones, who had 24 points, while Khyle Marshall had 14 and Kellen Dunham scored 10.
Penn was successful in keeping the Hinkle crowd of 6,406 quiet for much of the first half, although Butler took a lead at 10-8 and never trailed again in the contest. Penn tied the score once, at 18-18 when Jamal Lewis drained a three pointer. However, the Bulldogs responded with a dunk from Marshall and then a trey from Rotnei Clarke - as it turned out, the only one Butler's leading scorer hit among his nine attempts during the game.
Butler was simply dominant on the boards in the opening stanza, outrebounding Penn 20-8 including 11 offensive boards that led to 18 second-chance points and a 20-2 edge on points in the paint. (The Quakers were far better containing the Bulldogs in the second stanza, holding them to two offensive boards and no second-chance points.)
Penn was down 35-29 at the half and trailed 42-35 early in the second period, but free throws by Darien Nelson-Henry and Cartwright were followed by a layup from Nelson-Henry. With that, the score was 42-40 and the Hinkle crowd rose to implore its team. Instead, Clarke turned it over, but with the chance to tie or take the lead Penn turned it right back over and Nelson-Henry was whistled for a foul on defense. That led to a free throw from Andrew Smith. Cartwright then missed a jumper, and Marshall threw down another dunk to make the score 45-40.
The run kept going until Butler's lead was 52-42, but Penn had one final charge in it. Cameron Gunter nicely handled a feed from Lewis and turned it into a layup, then Hicks drained a three. Both teams had a pair of empty possessions after that, before Hicks got into the lane for a layup that made the score 52-49.
Again the crowd rose up. Again Butler heard them.
Almost immediately after Hicks' layup, Jones backed his man down for a layup that made the score 54-49. Penn turned the ball over, and then fouled Dunham who hit a pair of free throws. Two more missed jumpers by the Quakers were followed by a Jones jumper. In all, Butler scored 10 straight points to push its lead to 13, at 62-49.
Penn got within eight points, at 62-54, when Henry Brooks hit two foul shots, but Butler scored the game's next eight points to put this game away.
Penn returns to action Saturday at La Salle in its second Big 5 tilt of the season. The Quakers and Explorers will tip off at 2 p.m. at the Tom Gola Arena.
Game Notes: Penn played for the second straight game without leading scorer Fran Dougherty, who did not make the trip to Indianapolis due to mononucleosis ... This was Penn's first game against a ranked opponent this season ... Penn shot 53.3 percent from three-point land in the game (8-of-15), a season high ... Junior guard Miles Cartwright led Penn in scoring with 15 points, his team-leading eighth double-figure scoring game this season and 41st at Penn ... Cartwright has led Penn in scoring in two straight games, three of the last four contests, four of the last six, and five games this season ... Freshman guard Tony Hicks scored 10 points against the Bulldogs, his third double-figure scoring game this season ... Freshman guard Jamal Lewis set a season/career high with six assists; in addition, he has scored a combined 28 points in the previous three games to raise his scoring average from 4.1 points per game to 5.5 ppg.