PHILADELPHIA - For a good portion of Tuesday night's game at The Palestra, the Penn men's basketball team gave Princeton a fair amount of trouble, and there were plenty of fans in the building -- and in Boston -- who were envisioning an upset.
With a piece of the Ivy League championship on the line, though, the Tigers shifted to an extra gear midway through the second half. An 11-0 Princeton run turned what had been a close affair into a comfortable 55-42 lead, and from there the Tigers cruised to a 70-58 victory.
With the win, Princeton shares the 2010-11 Ivy League title with Harvard at 12-2. The Tigers (24-6 overall) and Crimson (23-5) will meet in a one-game playoff to determine the Ancient Eight's NCAA Tournament representative Saturday afternoon at Yale.
Penn, meanwhile, ends an Ivy League season that began with much promise but ended with the Quakers at .500 (7-7). They finished fourth in the standings behind Princeton, Harvard and Yale (8-6). Overall, Penn finishes the campaign at 13-15.
Princeton jumped out to an early lead, and it looked like the Tigers would cruise to the title. Conor Turley opened the scoring, but the Tigers scored the next nine points and quickly advanced their lead to 11, at 15-4. Penn came back, though -- nine points in a row later, the Quakers were within two, and after that it was a tussle.
Princeton was up 19-16 with five minutes left before halftime, but both teams stalled offensively after that. Penn scored the only points before the break -- two from the foul line by Mike Howlett, then a three-pointer by Zack Rosen and a baseline dunk by Jack Eggleston. At the half, Penn's lead was 23-19. Penn then scored the first four points of the second half, and went up 27-19.
Princeton made its move. The Tigers scored eight points in a row to draw level, with Kareem Maddox and Ian Hummer doing most of the damage. It would be a recurring theme throughout the stanza.
The teams traded points for several minutes after that, but with the game on the line Princeton pulled away.
Zack Rosen brought Penn within 44-42 with 8:28 to play when he hit a jumper. However, Patrick Saunders hit a three-pointer and that set the Tigers off. Maddox followed that with a pair of free throws, and then Douglas Davis hit a trey. Saunders followed up with another bucket beyond the arc, and just like that the score was 55-42. Penn never got back into it after that.
Princeton played the second half like the championship team they are. The Tigers were 14-of-18 from the field in the second stanza (4-of-5 from long distance) and shot 19 of 23 from the foul line.
Maddox finished the game with 23 points, 21 of them in the second half. He also had five rebounds and five assists (again, all in the second half). Hummer finished with 14 points and seven boards, while Dan Mavraides had 10 points and matched Hummer in the rebounding department.
For Penn, Tyler Bernardini knocked down 18 points, while Miles Cartwright had 12 points -- highlighted by a thunderous dunk in traffic late in the game -- and six assists. Eggleston finished the night with 10 points and also had six rebounds, giving him 700 for his career.
Prior to the game, Penn honored five outgoing seniors: Eggleston, Turley, Dan Monckton, Andreas Schreiber, and Darren Smith. Two other seniors, Bernardini and Zack Gordon, have a year of eligibility remaining and plan to return to the Quakers in 2011-12.
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Postgame Notes: Penn has now lost five in a row to Princeton, although the Quakers lead the all-time series, 122-102 ... Penn held Princeton to 19 first-half points, one shy of the low by an opponent this season (Columbia scored 18 in the first half on Feb. 25) ... Senior Tyler Bernardini led Penn with 18 points, his 19th double-figure scoring game in 2010-11 and the ninth time he has led the Quakers in scoring in a game this season ... Bernardini scored in double figures in each of Penn's last seven games and 17 of the last 19 ... Freshman Miles Cartwright had 12 points, his sixth straight double-digit scoring game and 17th this season ... Cartwright also had a game-high six assists, two shy of his season/career high ... Playing in his final game for the Red and Blue, Jack Eggleston had 10 points and a team-high six rebounds ... His scoring output marked his 18th double-figure scoring game this season and 61st all-time ... Eggleston led Penn in rebounding in 24 of the Quakers' 28 games ... Eggleston finished his career with exactly 700 rebounds, becoming the first player to grab 700 boards since Mark Zoller who graduated in 2007 ... Junior Zack Rosen had three assists, giving him 152 for the season which puts him fourth on the program's single-season list ... Rosen has 415 career assists, good for fourth all-time at Penn with one full season still to play ... On the all-time scoring list, Eggleston finishes his career with 1,248 points, while Rosen has 1,121 and Bernardini has 1,079 (Rosen and Bernardini have one year of eligibility left) ... The game was the final in the careers of Eggleston, Dan Monckton, Andreas Schreiber, Darren Smith and Conor Turley.