PHILADELPHIA - When Yale's Matt Kyle dropped in a layup with 14:03 to play in the first half of Saturday night's men's basketball game with Penn at The Palestra, the Bulldogs were in full command, 16-1, and the Quakers' normally raucous student section was silent.
When Yale's Travis Pinick hit a layup with 5:28 to play in the first half, the Bulldogs still led, 31-19, but the student section -- indeed, the entire Palestra crowd -- was starting to come to life.
When Ibrahim Jaaber hit a three-pointer to start the second half -- his first points of the game, and a field goal that made him just the second Penn starter to record one in thecontest -- the score was tied, 33-33, and the arena was in full throat.
When Eric Osmundson got a steal in the open court and went in for an uncontested dunk with four minutes left in the game, it made the score 70-44 in Penn's favor, and it was a miracleThe Palestraroof was not being blown away.
If you are scoring at home, Osmundson's jam was the cap on a 51-13 Quaker blitz that propelled them to a 74-52 victory. With the win, Penn (12-6, 4-0 Ivy) remains the only unbeaten team in the Ancient Eight, while Yale (11-10, 3-3 Ivy) saw its hopes of staying in the championship race take a severe hit after such a promising start to the evening.
In fact, a quick look at the Ivy race after the first full weekend of play shows only two teams with fewer than two losses, Penn and -- are you ready for this? -- Princeton. That's right, the Tigers -- left for dead just a few short days ago, with an overall record of 5-12 -- are 3-1 in the conference.
To be honest, Penn Head Coach Fran Dunphy had to be feeling good as he led his team into the locker room at the half. The Quakers missed their first nine shots of the night in falling behind by 15, came back to salvage a 35-percent performance from the field-- even though Osmundson was the only starter to hit a field goal in the stanza -- and still only trailed, 33-30.
The heroes? How about Friedrich Ebede and Brian Grandieri. Ebede came into the game and knocked down three-pointers on consecutive possessions after Osmundson had finally knocked down a trey of his own. By halftime, the senior from Cameroon had hit four of five field goals and scored 11 points, just the second double-figure scoring performance of his collegiate career.
As for Grandieri, he came off the bench to supply seven points and three rebounds in nine active minutes. For the night, he would end up with 12 points, six boards and two assists in a productive 22 minutes.
"Sometimes you are going to get stretches like what we had early in the game," said Dunphy. "I thought Friedrich stepped up big, as did Grandieri. We really needed them in the first half."
"We just had to wait for the storm toblow over," said Grandieri. "I made some wide-open shots, and we really got going from there."
Osmundson ended up leading the Quakers with 17 points, and also came up with five assists. Jaaber scored 11 points, all in the second half, while Steve Danley again came up with a workmanlike 10 points, three rebounds and four assists. Mark Zoller was held in single digits scoring for the second night in a row, but like Friday night he responded by hitting double digits in the rebounding category (12).
While Penn struggled early, Yale jumped out quickly. Perhaps playing with increased urgency due to their loss at Princeton Friday night, the Bulldogs got a quick layup from Dominick Martin in the first minute and let that set the tone. Eric Flato dialed long distance twice in the run and sandwiched another jumper in between, and before six minutes had passed the score was 16-1.
Osmundson finally stopped the streak, and then Ebede's back-to-back treys got the Quakers within six points. Yale was able to hold Penn off for several minutes after that, but after Pinick's layup made the score 31-19 Grandieri drained a three-pointer, Osmundson knocked down a pair of shots, and then Grandieri took a pass from Zoller for another layup to make the score 31-28.
Jaaber's second half-opening trey was quickly followed by a jumper from Danley that gave Penn its first lead of the night, then Jaaber and Danley hit layups and Zoller hit a jumper to make the score 41-33. Grandieriburied another three-pointer with 12 minutes left to push the Quakers' lead into double digits, and it was all over but the shouting at that point. Yale never got closer than 12 points in the game's final 12 minutes, and the Penn lead crested at 26 with Osmundson's dunk.
Penn now hits a brutal stretch, playing seven of its final 10 Ivy games on the road including four of the next five. The barnstorming begins next weekend at Dartmouth Friday night and at Harvard Saturday night. Both games are slated for a 7 p.m. tipoff, and the game with the Crimson will be televised live on CN8.