STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. - The University of Pennsylvania men's basketball team had a chance to win Saturday's game at Wagner in regulation, then a chance to gain a late lead in overtime, but were off the mark both times and the Seahawks were able to escape the Quakers, 68-63.
Penn fell to 2-9 with the loss, while Wagner improved to 6-5.
Both teams played the game without their leading scorers, Fran Dougherty (illness) for Penn and Jonathon Williams for Wagner. The result was a game that was ugly at times, exhilarating at others, and certainly long on drama.
The score was tied, 54-54, when Penn got the ball with 36.5 seconds left in regulation. The Quakers got the ball to Miles Cartwright -- a good decision, considering he had 17 points at that juncture. The junior tried to get inside, but Wagner defended him well and he could only manage a long three-point attempt that was off the mark as the buzzer sounded.
In the OT, Penn was down 62-60 but had the ball inside of 30 seconds (knowing there was plenty of difference between the shot clock and the game clock, so Wagner would get a possession). Out of a timeout, Steve Rennard came off a screen at the top of the circle, took a pass from the right side, and squared to take a trey of his own. Again the shot was off the mark, Wagner grabbed the board, and the Seahawks' Kenneth Ortiz went 6-of-6 at the foul line in the final seconds to land the knockout punch.
Cartwright finished the game with 19 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. Jamal Lewis had arguably the best all-around game of his young career with 16 points, five boards and four assists; he went 3-of-3 on three-pointers. Henry Brooks scored 12 points and had six rebounds and three steals, while freshman Darien Nelson-Henry battled foul trouble but showed his potential with seven points, a team-high seven rebounds, and four blocked shots.
For Wagner, Ortiz had game highs in points (23), rebounds (10) and assists (6). Latif Rivers added 15 points and was the only other Seahawk player to score in double figures.
As it had in its previous game at Delaware, Penn got off to a quick start Saturday. The Quakers scored the game's first five points and were up 11-2 before the game was five minutes old. Wagner responded with a seven-point run, before Penn had another mini-streak to go up by nine (22-13) with six minutes to go in the half. The host Seahawks twice got within a point before the break, but could never match the Quakers, and Penn went into the locker room up 31-29.
Wagner scored the first three points of the second half to finally get its first lead, and the tone was set for a period that saw six ties and 12 lead changes. Wagner scored seven straight points to go up 39-34 and then 41-36, but Penn scored six in a row from there to get the lead back, 42-41. In the game's final 11 minutes, no one held a lead larger than two points.
Brooks hit a jumper from the foul line with just over three minutes left to put Penn up, 49-48, but Latif Rivers was fouled as he took a three-pointer on the Seahawks' next possession. He made all three foul shots to push Wagner back ahead, before Cartwright hit a foul line jumper and was fouled as the ball went through the basket. He hit his free throw, and Penn was back on top 52-51 with 2:32 to play.
Nelson-Henry blocked Ortiz's layup, but Josh Thompson got the rebound and the ball again ended up in the hands of Ortiz. This time he was able to make the layup, and Wagner was back on to 53-52 as the clock went inside two minutes.
Brooks calmly stroked a jumper from the top of the circle to push Penn back in front, but Wagner got three chances at the basket on its next possession and that eventually turned into a foul that put Orlando Parker at the line. He missed the first but made the second, setting the stage for Cartwright's attempt to win it.
Wagner scored twice quickly in the extra session, first when Ortiz fed Mario Moody for a dunk and then when Thompson finished a layup off a Moody steal. Penn came right back after the second basket, Lewis feeding Greg Louis for a layup, and then both teams stagnated for a few possessions before Rivers hit a difficult fallaway from the right side to push the Seahawks back up by four, 60-56, with 2:42 left.
Cartwright was fouled on his shot during Penn's next possession and hit both free throws, but Penn was unable to get a stop on the next Wagner possession. Ortiz put up the layup that was blocked by Nelson-Henry, Moody got the rebound but had the ball knocked out of his hands as he tried to go up, but then another putback bounced in off the hands of Ortiz. There was 1:36 to play.
Penn again got within two, Lewis feeding a cutting Nelson-Henry for the layup with 1:29 to play. Nelson-Henry then again blocked Ortiz's drive to the basket, and the ball fell to Cartwright. That set up the Quakers' possession that ended with Rennard's trey attempt.
Penn returns to action next Wednesday at Butler's famed Hinkle Fieldhouse; the Quakers and Bulldogs will tip off at 7 p.m.
Game Notes: The game was Penn's first overtime game of the 2012-13 season; the Quakers fell to 45-46 all-time in OT games ... Penn had three players score in double figures (Cartwright, Lewis, Brooks), the first time that has happened since the season opener against UMBC on November 9 ... For the fourth time this season, and first time in five games, Penn had fewer turnovers than its opponent (Penn 16, Wagner 19) ... Penn had nine steals in the game, a team high since collecting 10 against Delaware on November 12 ... For the first time in five games, Penn (.400) had a better shooting percentage than its opponent (.389) ... Penn tied a season team high with four blocked shots, all of them coming from freshman Darien Nelson-Henry ... Freshman Jamal Lewis doubled his season/career high in points (16) and also set season/career highs in assists (4), three-point baskets (3) and minutes (41) ... Junior Miles Cartwright scored 19 points to lead Penn in scoring for the second time in three games, the third time in five contests, and the fourth time this season ... Cartwright has scored in double figures seven times this season (tied with Fran Dougherty for the team lead) and 40 times in his career, tops among active Penn players ... Cartwright hit his first three free throws, giving him 21 in a row over a five-game span, before missing two in a row; he ended the game 7-of-9 at the charity stripe ... Sophomore Henry Brooks had 12 points, one shy of a career high, for his first double-figure scoring game this season and fourth at Penn ... Brooks also set career highs in steals (3) and minutes (43) and tied his career high with six rebounds ... Nelson-Henry season/career highs in rebounds (7) and blocked shots (4) and tied his season/career high in points (7) ... Nelson-Henry led Penn in rebounding for the second time in three games.