PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team punched its ticket to the inaugural Ivy League Tournament in the most dramatic of fashion on Saturday night, as sophomore Jackson Donahue drained a three-pointer with 6.3 seconds left -- his only shot of the game -- to give the Quakers a 75-72 win over Harvard.
Penn (13-14, 6-8 Ivy League) finished alone in fourth place and will play top seed Princeton in the first semifinal next Saturday at The Palestra at 1:30 p.m., followed by the second-seeded Crimson and third-seeded Yale at 4 p.m. (The day will start, incidentally, with the Ivy League champion Penn women playing Brown in a semifinal that tips off at 11 a.m.)
Numbers of Note
*Penn committed nine turnovers, the Quakers' second-straight game in single digits in that category (6 last night) and their sixth time this season.
*This was Penn’s first win on a Saturday this season; the Quakers were previously 0-9 in such games.
*Penn also won for the first team this season when shooting a worse field-goal percentage than its opponent; Penn was 47.2 percent on Saturday, Harvard was 48.3 percent. The Quakers were 0-11 in such games this year, 1-22 in the Donahue era.
*For just the second time in 13 games this season, Penn won a game that it trailed at halftime.
*In his final regular-season game wearing the Red and the Blue -- his 100th appearance at Penn -- senior Matt Howard scored Penn’s first 11 points and finished with a career high in points (24) and tied for a career best in rebounds (12).
*The double-double was Howard’s fifth this season and seventh at Penn.
*Freshman AJ Brodeur had 15 points (11 of them in the second half) and seven rebounds.
*Freshman Ryan Betley had 10 points, his seventh-straight game in double figures, and finished two rebounds shy of his career high with six.
*Junior Darnell Foreman ended the weekend with nine assists and no turnovers; he added seven points tonight, giving him 18 for the weekend.
How It Happened
Just minutes after being honored ahead of his final regular-season game on his home court, senior Matt Howard went off to start Saturday’s game. He had Penn’s first 11 points, and spurred the Quakers to a 21-13 advantage. However, Harvard responded with 12 straight points and took a 25-21 lead. The Crimson kept that edge the rest of the period, and took a 35-31 lead into the locker room.
Harvard then opened the second-half scoring, but Penn responded with the next 10 points to take a 41-37 lead, six of them coming from AJ Brodeur. That lead held until a Justin Bassey putback gave the Crimson a 46-45 lead with just over 12 minutes remaining. That lead extended to 53-47 on a Seth Towns three-pointer and a pair of Bryce Aiken free throws.
Penn scored four in a row off a Brodeur foul shot and a Devon Goodman trey, but Chris Lewis quickly got them back on consecutive Crimson possessions. It was still 58-52 when Penn got a trey from an unlikely source (Brodeur) which started the Quakers on an 11-0 run to put them up 63-58.
At that point, Harvard’s Siyani Chambers went into action. He splashed a three-pointer to get the Crimson within two, then answered a Penn basket with one of his own. Howard went for an old-fashioned three-pointer, and Harvard came back with an Aiken layup to make it 68-65 with 2:30 to play.
Howard hit another acrobatic layup to put Penn back up by five, and again Harvard had the response as Towns scored over everyone. Penn then went backdoor, Brodeur finding Goodman, but Aiken came back with an old-fashioned three-point play to make Penn’s lead 72-70 as the clock got inside the final minute.
Howard missed a three-point attempt, and Harvard charged down to force a foul. Aiken made both ends of a 1-and-1 which tied the game at 72-72 with 20.2 seconds left. That set the stage for Donahue’s heroics, as he took a pass from Goodman and nailed his first shot of the night from just in front of the Penn bench. Harvard had a chance to tie, but Corey Johnson’s three-pointer bounced around the rim and off as the buzzer sounded, setting off pandemonium at The Palestra.