CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - A month ago, the Penn men's basketball team fell way behind Harvard, but -- bolstered by a raucous home crowd -- climbed back and ended up going double overtime with the Crimson before falling, 83-82.
On Friday night, the Quakers again allowed the Crimson to jump out to a sizable lead. This time the game was at Harvard's sold-out bandbox, the Lavietes Pavilion, and the result was predictable -- Penn never posed any semblance of a threat. The final score was 79-64.
With the win, Harvard kept pace with Ivy League frontrunner Princeton; the Tigers easily defeated Dartmouth, and stand 11-1 in conference play. The Crimson, meanwhile, are 11-2, and will close out their regular season with the Tigers tomorrow.
Can Penn (12-14, 6-6) still affect the championship race? Sure, if Harvard beats Princeton tomorrow. Then the Quakers game with the Tigers on Tuesday will be the difference between an Ivy playoff or the Crimson's first-ever Ancient Eight crown.
Keith Wright and Tyler Bernardini matched jump shots to start the game, but then Brandyn Curry hit a three-pointer and the Crimson never looked back. Penn's only threat came in the form of a 7-2 run that turned an 11-4 Harvard lead into a 13-11 Crimson advantage. Harvard scored the next 11 points, making it 24-11, and Penn never again got the deficit into single digits.
When the halftime break finally came, Penn was losing by 22, its largest halftime deficit this season. It was not hard to see why -- Harvard's first-half dominance was evident everywhere on the box score. The Crimson shot 17 of 26 from the field (65.4 percent) including 7-of-12 (58.3 percent) from beyond the arc. They had 14 assists on their 17 buckets. Harvard held the advantage on points in the paint (14-2) and points off turnovers (21-2).
Penn briefly stirred to life at the start of the second half, scoring the first six points. However, for the most part the Quakers had to work to keep the score respectable -- Harvard's lead crested at 26, and it was never smaller than 13.
For the game, Harvard shot 60.5 percent from the field and 47.8 percent on three-pointers. The Crimson were also a perfect 16-of-16 at the foul line. To its credit, Penn shot a respectable 43.5 percent from the field and made 19 of its 20 free-throw attempts.
Miles Cartwright led four Penn players in double figures, scoring 16 points. Jack Eggleston had 13 points and a game-high six rebounds, while Zack Rosen had 11 points, five assists and three steals. Tyler Bernardini finished with 10 points.
For Harvard, Brandyn Curry was simply spectacular -- he ended the night with 13 points, a staggering 14 assists, and four steals. Crimson freshman Laurent Rivard proved that, when left open, he can hit threes -- he made five of them on the night, en route to a game-high 21 points. Christian Webster added 14 as five different Harvard players reached double digits in the scoring column.
Penn completes this road trip Saturday night at Dartmouth, tipping off at 7 p.m.
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Postgame Notes: Penn was swept by Harvard for the second straight season and has now lost five in a row to the Crimson; that had never happened before in program history ... Penn's 22-point deficit at halftime (47-25) was its largest this season ... Harvard's 47-point first half matched the best by a Penn opponent this season (Brown scored 47 first-half points on Jan. 29) ... After starting the season 11-0 in such games, Penn has lost the last two contests despite making more free throws than its opponent (on Friday it was Penn 19, Harvard 16) ... Penn shot 19 of 20 from the foul line, the Quakers' second-best performance at the charity stripe this season (bettered only by the team's 15-of-15 performance against Saint Joseph's on Jan. 22) ... Harvard shot 26 of 43 from the field, the best percentage by an opponent against Penn this season ... Miles Cartwright led Penn with 16 points; it marked the second straight game and the sixth time this season he has led the team in that category ... Cartwright has now scored in double digits in four straight games (15.5 ppg) and has 15 such games in 2010-11 ... Cartwright tied a season/career high with three three-point baskets ... Senior Jack Eggleston had 13 points -- his first double-figure scoring game since Feb. 12 at Cornell -- and also led all players with six rebounds ... Eggleston has led Penn in rebounds in 22 of 26 games this season ... Junior Zack Rosen scored 11 points, his team-leading 21st double-figure scoring game of the season ... Rosen also had five assists; he has had five or more assists in 14 of the last 15 games ... Senior Tyler Bernardini scored 10 points, his fifth straight game in double digits and his 17th such game this season ... On the all-time scoring list, Eggleston now has 1,217 points; Rosen has 1,103; and Bernardini has 1,045 ... Junior Mike Howlett played his first game for Penn in his home state (his hometown is Amesbury, Mass.); making his fourth straight start, Howlett had six points in 12 minutes.