PRINCETON, N.J. - The first time the Penn and Princeton men's basketball teams played this season, on January 30, the Quakers knocked off the Tigers, 82-67.
What was lost amid that result was that Princeton shot nearly 58 percent from the field.
On Tuesday night at the Tigers' Jadwin Gym, Princeton shot better that that -- the Tigers hit at a 58.3 percent clip. That, plus a quick start, proved to be more than Penn could overcome and the Quakers fell in the regular-season finale, 62-52.
It was a brutal way to end what has been a magical ride for Penn over these last several weeks. With the loss, the Quakers' Ivy League championship hopes were dashed -- they finish the season 11-3 in the league, second behind 12-2 Harvard. A Penn win would have made the Red and Blue co-champions, and forced a one-game playoff that would have been this weekend.
At 19-12 overall, Penn's chances of playing in the postseason remain relatively strong. The NCAA Tournament is clearly out; the NIT is probably remote, as well. However, in this day and age there are also the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) and CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT). Penn's postseason fate will be determined on Sunday night.
Princeton (19-11, 10-4 Ivy) ended the season with a four-game winning streak and eight wins in its last nine contests. The postseason is still very much a possibility for the Tigers, as well.
To say that the first half was a struggle for Penn would be an understatement. The Quakers came out ice cold from the field, and for the most part it was one shot and back on defense. As a result, with 4:18 left in the first half the score was 23-6 in favor of Princeton.
Thankfully, Zack Rosen -- who suffered a miserable start Tuesday night -- got things going. He hit consecutive jumpers, one from beyond the arc, then added two more buckets after a Rob Belcore layup. When Rosen's fifth bucket went down with only seconds left before halftime, the deficit was suddenly a manageable 10 points (27-17) as the teams went to the locker rooms.
Penn then got a steal on Princeton's initial possession of the second half, from which the Quakers came down and Miles Cartwright nailed a three-pointer from the right corner. Just like that, the Red and Blue was within single digits of the Tigers for the first time since the 9:18 mark of the opening stanza. However, Princeton steadied as Brendan Connolly scored almost immediately for the Tigers.
It was still 34-24 out of the first media timeout, but Penn had a run ahead. Belcore started it with a trey from the right corner, and then Cartwright followed by hitting the Quakers' first two free throws of the night. After two more stops, Rosen drove and missed a layup, but Fran Dougherty sailed in among the Princeton defenders and put it back to make the score 34-31. That forced a Princeton timeout with 12:15 left.
Princeton struggled on its next possession, but Cartwright bailed them out with a foul and Hummer made the Quakers pay with a short jumper. Rosen then missed a layup in traffic, and T.J. Bray shook into the lane and hit a layup that pushed the Tigers' lead back to seven.
Rosen kept coming back for Penn, hitting three-pointers on consecutive possessions, but Princeton answered both times -- first with a Saunders bucket, then a Hummer fallaway pop along the right baseline.
It was still a nine-point game with just over three minutes left when Belcore stole the ball from Hummer near midcourt. His layup at the other end hit the backboard and was blocked by Hummer, scoring the bucket to make the score 48-41 as the game moved to its final media timeout with 2:57 to play.
As it turned out, that would be Penn's last gasp. Princeton scored the game's next five points and that pretty much sealed the deal.
Rosen ended up leading all scorers with 19 points, but he was 8-of-24 from the field and had an uncharacteristic seven turnovers while dishing off just one assist. Cartwright had 11 points, while Belcore filled the box score with nine points, five rebounds, three assists and four steals. Dougherty had eight points and led Penn with seven boards.
For Princeton, Hummer had a double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds) while Douglas Davis scored 12 points and Saunders added 10.
Penn-Princeton Game Notes: Penn and Princeton split their season series, and the Tigers beat the Quakers for the sixth time in seven meetings ... Penn now leads the all-time series, 123-103 ... Penn scored 17 points in the first half, a low for any half this season ... Penn set a low for the Jerome Allen coaching era with three free-throw attempts, and tied an Allen-era low with two makes ... Princeton tied opponent highs this season with eight blocked shots and 20 turnovers, and tied an opponent low with 36 field-goal attempts ... Princeton's 58.3 field-goal percentage was the second-best by a Penn opponent this season, behind only Pitt (58.5 on Nov. 25) ... Senior guard Zack Rosen led Penn with 19 points, the seventh straight game and 20th time this season he has led the team in that category ... Rosen has scored in double figures in 15 straight games, 29 of 31 this season, and 89 times in his career ... Sophomore guard Mile Cartwright was the only other player in double figures, with 11 points; it was his 14th double-digit scoring game this season ... Cartwright also tied a season/career high with three steals ... Sophomore center Fran Dougherty played a season-high 30 minutes and led Penn with seven rebounds, one shy of his season/career best ... Dougherty has led Penn in boards in three of the last four games and five of the last nine ... Dougherty is averaging 5.3 rebounds per game over Penn's last nine contests ... Senior forward Rob Belcore tied a season/career high with four steals ... Freshman center Henry Brooks tied a season/career high with two steals.
Single-Season Record Book Watch: Senior guard Zack Rosen has played 1,181 minutes this season, the program's single-season record ... Rosen has 161 assists, one shy of the record shared by David Klatsky (2000-01) and Ibrahim Jaaber (2006-07) ... Rosen has made 31 starts, one behind the record set in 2001-02 by Koko Archibong, Tim Begley, Jeff Schiffner and Ugonna Onyekwe ... Rosen has scored 575 points, which is seventh on the single-season list and the most by a Penn player since Tony Price scored 633 in 1978-79 ... Rosen has 72 three-point baskets, tied for eighth with Garett Kreitz (1996-97) and the most since Tim Begley hit 76 in 2004-05 ... Senior forward Rob Belcore has 56 steals, tied for seventh with Ira Bowman (1994-95) and the most since Ibrahim Jaaber had 90 in 2006-07 ...
All-Time Record Book Watch: Senior guard Zack Rosen had one assist, giving him 576 for his career which is the program's all-time record ... Rosen has started 113 games in his career which is tied with Tim Begley (2002-05) for the program record ... Rosen played all 40 minutes, giving him 4,120 for his career which is also a program mark ... Rosen has 1,686 career points which puts him third on Penn's all-time scoring list. (Ugonna Onyekwe is second, with 1,762 points from 2000-03.) ... Senior guard Tyler Bernardini has 1,456 career points which puts him 10th on Penn's all-time scoring list. (Current head coach Jerome Allen is ninth, with 1,488 points from 1992-95.) ... Rosen has 222 career three-point field goals which is third all-time. (Matt Maloney is second with 244 from 1993-95.) ... Bernardini has 199 career treys, which ties him with Garett Kreitz (1995-98) for sixth all-time ... Rosen has made 412 career foul shots which is fifth all-time. (Ernie Beck is fourth, with 419 made free throws from 1951-53.) ... Rosen has 151 career steals which is fourth all-time (Maloney is third, with 157 from 1993-95), while Bernardini has 132 steals which is ninth (Paul Chambers from 1989-92 and Shawn Trice from 1992-95 are tied for seventh with 134.) ... Bernardini has made 101 career starts which is tied with Michael Jordan and Geoff Owens are tied for fifth all-time ... Bernardini has played 3,275 career minutes which is seventh all-time. (Jaaber is sixth, with 3,569 minutes from 2004-07.)