Backcourt Keys Men's Basketball Win at Cornell, 79-71

Box Score (PDF)

The University of Pennsylvania men's basketball team rode a career-high 29 points from Tony Hicks and a second half emphasis on finding and closing out on Cornell's shooters to come away with a 79-71 victory on Friday night at Newman Arena.

It was an historic night for Hicks, who scored more points than any Penn freshman in a game in more than 20 years. Of course, Hicks might know the guy -- it's his head coach. And he did it in the same town. That's right, Jerome Allen dropped 31 at Cornell on March 7, 1992.

The early portion of the contest was all about Hicks, as the freshman scored at will on a flummoxed Cornell defense. After Devin Cherry gave the Big Red a 3-0 lead, Hicks answered with a triple and then scored at the rim after Miles Cartwright jumped a passing lane and initiated a run-out. Cornell (13-13, 5-4 Ivy) answered back with five straight to take an 8-5 lead, but another Hicks trey knotted the game at 8-8 less than three minutes in.

The only points that came from someone other than Hicks in his red-hot opening sequence was when Jamal Lewis found space in the paint and laid it in for a 10-9 Penn lead. Seven more from Hicks in quick succession gave him 15 points in the first six minutes, already just a single point off his career high.

The Quakers' lead crested at 12 points when Cartwright hit a pair at the charity stripe coming out of a media timeout with 11:43 to play in the half. Cornell came right back at Penn with nine unanswered, six coming from Nolan Cressler on back-to-back 3-pointers that brought a silenced crowd to life. Cameron Gunter came back with a strong move in the post and Greg Louis hit 1-of-2 at the line, but three more Cornell 3-pointers in the space of two minutes gave the Big Red their first lead in more than 11 minutes.

Cressler showed no signs of slowing down as the first half neared a close. The Cornell freshman scored six straight for his team, a run broken only by a Cartwright trey, for a 37-33 edge with three minutes left in the opening stanza. The Big Red lead got as high as six and could have been worse if not for two Louis field goals in the final minute, taking Penn into the locker room down four, 43-39.

Held in check by foul trouble in the first half, Henry Brooks got in on the act with a pair of jumpers to open the second 20 minutes. Thanks to him, the Cornell lead remained only four, 47-43, when Hicks again put the team on his back. Within 90 seconds, that four-point deficit would turn into a 52-47 lead as the Big Red simply could not find a way to slow down the Penn freshman. Given space, he knocked down jumper after jumper. When guarded closely - as he was on the final hoop of the 9-0 run -- he made a back cut to the rim and scored off the dish from a teammate.

A trey from Dominick Scelfo at the 14:32 mark was Cornell's eighth make from deep on the night, but it would also be the last until less than four minutes remained. Penn's lead was 56-51 when Patrick Lucas-Perry entered the game and provided the kind of instant offense he's become known for this season, scoring eight points in a row for the Quakers, by which time the advantage had grown to 64-55. A Hicks three would make the lead double-digits for the first time since early on in the game, 67-56.

Cornell pulled as close as six, 69-63, with 3:45 to play off a triple from Cherry, but Cartwright was there to answer him from way downtown -- his 1,000th career point at Penn --again giving Penn a comfortable margin as the clock continued to play against the Big Red. Neither team would score for nearly two minutes, but when Camryn Crocker ducked into the lane and converted a tough finish while being fouled the game was pretty much decided, as the Quakers led 75-63 with just a minute-and-a-half to go. Four free throws in the final 40 seconds from Cartwright and Hicks sealed the gutsy road win.

Hicks' 29 points nearly doubled his previous career high of 16, back on Jan. 12 at Princeton. Cartwright had a complete all-around game with 15 points, nine assists, six boards and a pair of steals. His assist total tied a career high, which was set coincidentally in the earlier meeting this season with Cornell on Feb. 2.

Penn will close out its weekend against Columbia (10-13, 2-7 Ivy) tomorrow night at 7 p.m. from Levien Gym in New York City.


Game Notes: Penn has now won two games in a row and three of its last four ... Penn shot 54.9 percent from the field (28-51) and is 55.4 percent (51-92) in the last two games; the Quakers have shot 50 percent or better from the field five times this season ... Penn hit 10 three-pointers, the third time this season the Quakers have reached double digits in that category (also 10 vs. Binghamton and 12 in the first meeting with Cornell) ... Penn has outrebounded its opponent in two straight games, three of the last four contests, and four of the last six ... Penn had more assists than turnovers for the seventh time this season (fifth time in the last nine contests) ... Cornell tied an opponent team high this season with 27 three-point field goal attempts, and tied an opponent low with three steals ... Penn set a season low with two steals ... Freshman set a season/career high in points (29), nearly double his previous best of 16 ... Hicks' scoring performance was the best by a Penn freshman since a young man named dropped 31 at, of all places, Cornell on March 7, 1992 ... Hicks scored Penn's first eight points and 15 of the Quakers' first 17; early in the second half, he had a personal nine-point run during a stretch where Penn turned a 45-39 deficit into a 52-47 lead ... Hicks went 5-of-6 on three-pointers, tying the best performance by a Penn player in the Allen coaching era ... Hicks also went 2-of-2 at the foul line; he is 15-of-15 over the last four games, and has hit 17 in a row dating back to Columbia on February 1 ... Junior scored 15 points, pushing him past 1,000 for his career; he now has 1,002 and is the 38th player in program history to surpass the mark ... Cartwright has a team-leading 15 double-figure scoring games this season, and 48 for his career ... Cartwright went 4-of-4 at the foul line, making him 95-of-105 (90.5 percent) over Penn's last 22 games ... Cartwright also tied his season/career high with nine assists ... Freshman started for the first time in three games and had nine rebounds, two shy of his season/career high ... Sophomore had seven points, tying his season high (also Nov. 28 vs. Binghamton) ... Sophomore had eight points, his sixth game with eight or more points out of Penn's last 10 contests.Patrick Lucas-PerryCamryn CrockerDarien Nelson-HenryMiles CartwrightJerome AllenTony Hicks

Download: Penn-Cornell.pdf