PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The Penn men's basketball team had been struggling in recent games, forced to play catchup and seeming to run out of gas.
The best way to remedy that situation? Get the lead early.
The Quakers did just that on Friday night at Brown, and while the Bears were able to claw back and even take the lead a few times in the second half, Penn kept its poise and pulled away for a 70-62 win at the Pizzitola Sports Center.
With the win, Penn improved to 10-12 overall and got back to .500 in Ivy League play at 4-4. Brown fell to 9-14 overall, 2-7 in the Ivies.
Senior Tyler Bernardini was dominant throughout the night. He entered the night needing 32 points to become Penn's third 1,000-point scorer this season, and he nearly got all of it in one fell swoop. In the end he "settled" for 26 -- one shy of his career high -- and was a stellar 6-of-8 from three-point land. (By the way, for the first time in Ivy play this season, he went without his facemask.)
Penn was down 4-2 after a few minutes, but ran off eight straight points and never trailed again in the half. Bernardini was on fire, scoring 15 points, and the Quakers' lead was as much as 10 before they went into the locker room up 28-21.
Penn kept that lead for a good portion of the second half, as Brown kept drawing close but the Quakers kept answering with a bucket or two. However, with just over six minutes left the Bears finally got over the hump and took a 49-48 lead when Peter Sullivan drained a three-pointer.
The teams traded points after that, with Mike Howlett hitting a layup and Sean McGonagill answering with a pair of free throws. However, Bernardini drained another trey, and then after Brown's Tucker Halpern hit a foul shot Rob Belcore answered with two for the Quakers to put Penn up, 55-52, with 3:42 left.
Zack Rosen doubled the lead with 2:14 left, hitting a three-pointer, then he stole a pass and was fouled as he went in for the layup at the other end. After hitting both free throws, the score was 60-52 and there were less than two minutes left.
Sullivan got an easy layup on the next Brown possession, but Penn began a foul-shooting parade and kept Brown from threatening down the stretch.
Rosen finished the night with 19 points -- he was 8-of-8 from the foul line -- and also had six assists. Given extra minutes due to Turley and Gunter's absence, Howlett staked his claim with 10 points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes. He was 4-of-5 from the field and had four offensive boards. Jack Eggleston was silenced in the scoring column, with just three points, but had a game-high eight rebounds, four steals and four blocked shots.
For Brown, McGonagill and Sullivan finished with 16 points apiece, while Halpern had 13 points and a team-high six rebounds.
Penn is back in action Saturday night, playing Yale in New Haven, Conn. The Bulldogs fell to 5-4 in Ivy play Friday night, losing 58-51 to Ivy League leader Princeton.
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Postgame Notes: Penn snapped a four-game losing streak with the win ... Penn swept Brown for the season, and improved to 99-21 all-time against the Bears ... Penn won in a visiting gym for just the second time this season ... Penn improved to 10-0 this season when making more free throws than its opponent (16-7) ... Penn shot 16 of 18 at the foul line, the Quakers' second-best performance from the charity stripe this season ... Penn tied a team high with five blocked shots ... Senior Tyler Bernardini had 26 points, one shy of a career high (set earlier this year against Saint Joseph's) ... It was Bernardini's fourth 20-point game this season and his 14th in a Penn uniform ... Bernardini now has 994 career points, and need six to become the 37th player in Penn history (third this year) to reach the 1,000-point milestone ... Bernardini has scored 218 points in Penn's last 13 games (16.8 ppg) ... Bernardini shot 6-of-8 on three-pointers, a career high and the most treys by a Penn player since junior Zack Rosen hit six on Jan. 3, 2010 at Lafayette ... Bernardini also tied a season high with seven rebounds ... Rosen had 19 points, his 18th double-figure scoring game this season ... Rosen shot 8-of-8 from the foul line, tied for the best performance at the charity stripe by a Penn player under Coach Allen ... Rosen also had six assists, his 11th straight game with five or more assists ... Junior Mike Howlett had season highs of 10 points and seven rebounds, playing a season-best 21 minutes ... Senior Jack Eggleston had eight rebounds, the 19th time in Penn's 22 games he has led the team in that category ... Eggleston also set a new career high with four steals and tied a season/career high with four blocked shots.