PHILADELPHIA -- The frenetic pace at which both teams played offenseMonday night left little doubt that the University of Pennsylvania would score 100 points last night, which would give the student ticketholders in the house a free cheesesteak at Abner's.
The question became when it would happen.
Sophomore Brian Grandieri answered it, knocking down a foul shot with 1:54 to play to get the Quakers to the century mark and send the student section into a frenzy. By the time this one was over, Penn had dropped a 105-73 decision on the Leopards, scoring the most points against a Division I opponent since a 108-73 win over Brown on Feb. 11, 1978. (the Quakers did score 114 in a win over Division III Haverford during the 1993-94 season)
Grandieri's point -- his third of the game on a night when five different Penn players hit double figures -- was redemption for the sophomore. He had missed a foul shot that would have gotten Penn the magic number a few seconds earlier, got his own rebound on the miss and then missed three putbacks in traffic--with the crowd vocalizing its anguish louder each time -- before finally getting the call and going back to the line.
"I was a little nervous," admitted Grandieri. "It was pretty exciting, though. Our fans deserved some free cheesesteaks."
Said Eric Osmundson, "we were joking with Brian in the locker room that he's going to be an instant legend now."
It was that kind of night for the Quakers (9-5), who put an emphatic exclamation point on this brutal weekend that saw them play three times in four nights. Penn averaged 92 points in the three contests and won by an average of 34.7 points against Cornell (Friday), Columbia (Saturday) and the 'Pards. Overall, Penn has won six of its last seven.
"We have been in a good stretch," said head coach Fran Dunphy, who won his 299th gameat Penn and saw his team reach 100 points for the seventh time in his career and the first time since a 104-69 win over Harvard on Feb. 6, 2004. "Unfortunately, now we have to take nine days off before our next game."
Penn shot 65 percent in the first half and did not cool off significantly until late in the game; when it was over the Quakers were 42-of-68 (61.8 percent) from the floor including 11-of-21 (52.4) from three-point land. Penn also came up with 14 steals on the defensive end, forcing 24 Lafayette turnovers.
Lafayette (8-8) hung around for a little while in the first half, thanks to some excellent long-range marksmanship. The Leopards finished the game with 14 treys (on 29 attempts) and knocked down the first six points of the game on trifectas from Andrew Brown and Jamaal Hilliard. However, after the teams traded conventional two-pointers, Penn took off on a 15-0 run that was led by Ibrahim Jaaber and David Whitehurst and never looked back. The Quakers' lead was in double figures with more than eight minutes to go in the half, and expanded to as much as 21 before settling on 19 (53-34) at the break.
Jaaber finished the half with 14 points and a pair of steals, while Mark Zoller had 12 points (on 6-of-7 shooting) and Whitehurst found his way to the bucket a number of times en route to nine points and four assists.
Unlike the previous two games, Penn allowed Lafayette to score the first four points of the second half, but then took off on an 8-0 run that quelled any thoughts the Leopards had of getting back into this thing. The Quakers' lead was 30 (78-48) with just under 13 minutes to play and hovered there most of the way asDunphy began emptying the bench. All that was left at that point was seeing when the Quakers would reach 100.
Monday's game pitted Dunphy against a former assistant of his, Fran O'Hanlon.
"We've known each other for the majority of our lives," said Dunphy afterward. "He is such a great coach and a great friend."
Jaaber ended up leading Penn with 21 points, hitting four treys, while Zoller had 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting. Osmundson, who has caught fire recently, was 4-of-7 beyond the arc en route to 18 points, while Steve Danley had 13 (5-of-6 from the field) and Whitehurst had 11. It marked the first time this year all five Penn starters scored in double figures in the same game. Off the bench, senior Friedrich Ebede had a strong game with seven points and a team-leading seven rebounds.
For Lafayette, Brown finished with 16 points (5-of-8 three-point shooting), while Bilal Abdullah had 12 and Andrei Capusan had 10.
Penn is now off until next Wednesday, Jan. 25, when the Quakers host La Salle in the first of two straight Big 5 games at The Palestra. Tipoff with the Explorers is slated for 7:30 p.m., and the game will air live on CN8 television.