PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team made a gallant comeback, but after whittling away at a 15-point deficit and taking a two-point lead, the Quakers allowed Temple to score the game’s final seven points and fell to the Owls, 78-73. The game was played in front of a sold-out Palestra and was the season opener for both squads.
Penn trailed by 15 on three occasions in the second half, the latest 67-52 with nine minutes left. However, after Miles Jackson-Cartwright’s three-pointer was answered by a jumper from Temple’s Dalton Pepper, the Quakers scored 10 straight points to make it a 69-65 contest. Jackson-Cartwright started the run with a jumper, and then Tony Hicks (28 points) found Darien Nelson-Henry on the break for a nice fast-break layin. Hicks had the next basket, a layin in traffic, and then Fran Dougherty hit a layup that sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Temple called timeout, and out of the break Anthony Lee shook free for a layup. However, Hicks drained a trey, and then after a Pepper miss Hicks again dialed long distance to tie the game at 71-71 with 1:52 left. Hicks then stole the ball and laid it in to give Penn its first lead since 9-8 early in the game. At that point, there was 1:37 left and Temple called timeout.
Lee again scored on a layup to tie the game, and then as the game went inside a minute Jackson-Cartwright tried to get into the lane. He lost the ball on the dribble, however, and it ended up in Lee’s hands. He fed Pepper ahead of the pack and Pepper laid it in to make the score 75-73.
Hicks missed a three at the other end, and was forced to foul Will Cummings on the rebound. Cummings only hit one of the two shots, keeping it a one-possession game, but with seven seconds left Hicks again could not hit from range with two defenders on him. Pepper got the board, was fouled, and hit the free throws to set the final score.
Penn scored the game’s first five points, on a Dougherty layup and an old-fashioned three-point play from Hicks. However, Temple scored 17 of the next 21 points to go up by eight. Penn got as close as three before the half, but it was 42-35 at the half.
In addition to Hicks’ performance on Saturday night, which was one shy of his career high, Darien Nelson-Henry pulled off a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Jackson-Cartwright, meanwhile, had 12 points, four rebounds and a team-high four assists. Hicks added three assists and three steals to his line.
Penn returns to action on Tuesday night at Monmouth, tipoff is slated for 7 p.m.
Game Notes: Sophomore Tony Hicks led all scorers with 28 points, one shy of his career high and the most by a Penn player in a season opener since the 2001-02 season (Ugonna Onyekwe 30 at Georgia Tech) … Hicks took 24 shots, tying the high by a Penn player in the Jerome Allen coaching era (Zack Rosen took 24 against Princeton on March 6, 2012), and made 12 which was one shy of a player high in the Allen era … Hicks scored eight straight points late in the game to push Penn from a 71-65 deficit to a 73-71 lead (the Quakers’ first lead in the game since 9-8) … Hicks also matched a career best with three steals, added three assists, and knocked down a team-high three three-point baskets … Sophomore Darien Nelson-Henry scored a career-high 19 points and had 10 rebounds -- one shy of a career best -- for his third collegiate double-double … Thirteen of his points and seven of his boards came in the second half … Senior Miles Jackson-Cartwright had 12 points for his 53rd double-figure scoring game at Penn … Senior Fran Dougherty, playing his first game since February 2, matched a career high with two assists … Freshmen Tony Bagtas, Matt Howard and Dylan Jones saw their first collegiate action. Jones’ first collegiate basket came on a dunk.