CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Junior forward Fran Dougherty had a magnificent game on Tuesday night, scoring 31 points and grabbing 10 rebounds to collect his first collegiate double-double. Unfortunately, it was not enough as the University of Pennsylvania men's basketball team fell to Fairfield, 62-53, in the second round of the NIT Season Tip-Off. Tuesday's game was played at the University of Virginia's John Paul Jones Arena.
Dougherty's 31-point outing was the best by a Penn player since Ibrahim Jaaber dropped 32 on Seton Hall early in the 2006-07 season. "Doc" was 13-of-21 from the field and hit four of his five foul shots. He entered this two-game set in Virginia with 14 points as his career high; he leaves having scored 52 in the two games.
The same could not be said for the rest of the team. Take away Dougherty's night from the field, and the Quakers were an abominable 6-of-32 (1-of-9 on three-pointers).
Fairfield (2-1) threatened to blow this game open early on, scoring at will in the first 10 minutes to take a 19-8 lead. The Stags' lead was still double digits with less than five minutes to go, but Penn (1-2) held fast and was able to get back within five by the halftime break, at 33-28.
Dougherty had 17 points in the opening stanza, including all of the Quakers' first 10. Penn kept itself in the game at the foul line, hitting 11-of-13. (Fairfield was even better at the charity stripe, going a perfect 8-of-8.)
The second half started off promising, as well, Dougherty laying it home twice in a row to get Penn within a point at 33-32. The game stayed that way for several minutes, with the Quakers getting multiple opportunities to take their first lead since 4-2. All of them went fruitless.
Fairfield needed more than six minutes to score in the period, but when the Stags did it opened the floodgates. Colin Nickerson started the run with a pair of free throws, and then just like that Marcus Gilbert was hitting a three-pointer and Maurice Barrow was being led for an easy layin. Suddenly the score was 40-32.
Darien Nelson-Henry threw down an emphatic slam to end the Stags' mini-run, but Derek Needham responded almost immediately with a trey at the other end. Penn never recovered; the Quakers could not get closer than nine points the rest of the way.
Miles Cartwright finished Tuesday's game with nine points, but no other Penn player had more than three. For Fairfield, Needham led a fairly balanced attack with 14 points, while Maurice Barrow and Colin Nickerson had 10 apiece.
Penn returns to action on Saturday, hosting Drexel at The Palestra. The Quakers and Dragons will tip off the latest installment of their neighborhood scrum at 4 p.m.