PHILADELPHIA – On Saturday, the University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team played its second game against an Atlantic 10 opponent in less than 48 hours (with a long drive home from Virginia in the snow in between). La Salle, Penn’s opponent at The Palestra, was playing for the first time since December 22.
The result was probably predictable. The Quakers allowed the Explorers to gain control of the scoreboard early, but were within single digits (29-20) with two minutes left in the first half.
At that point, La Salle’s motor kicked in and Penn did not have the legs to answer. The Explorers scored 17 unanswered points and 29 of the next 33 bridging the two halves, and that essentially put this one in the books. The final score was 76-57.
Penn will enter its Ivy League opener next Saturday against Princeton with a 2-10 overall record, while La Salle improved to 7-6 with Saturday’s victory.
La Salle used a 10-point run early in the game to take a nine-point lead at 16-7, taking advantage of three Quaker turnovers for seven of the points. That advantage bulged to as large as 13 points, at 28-15, before the Red and Blue briefly sprung to life to gradually get within nine points at 29-20.
Almost as soon as that happened, La Salle woke up. Tyrone Garland stroked a three-pointer on the Explorers’ ensuing possession, and that was the impetus to a half-ending, 7-0 run that had the guests up, 36-20, at the break.
Tony Hicks was the only one who really got anything going in the opening period, scoring 12 of Penn’s 20 points, while Fran Dougherty added five.
If there were any doubts as the teams took the floor for the second half, they were quickly put to rest. La Salle’s Jerrell Wright scored eight unanswered points for the Explorers -- giving him 21 at that point -- which made the score 44-20, and forced Penn to take a timeout. Steve Zack would hit a pair of free throws for the Explorers, extending La Salle’s run to 17-0 bridging the halves, before Dougherty finally got the Quakers on the board more than four minutes into the period.
Hicks ended the game with 16 points for Penn, while Dougherty had 14. Wright led La Salle with 21, while Garland and Tyreek Duren had 14 each and Zack added 10.
Penn’s Ivy League opener with Princeton will tip off next Saturday at 6 p.m. at The Palestra, a game that will be televised nationally on the NBC Sports Network.
Game Notes: For the first time in 10 games, Penn did not lose the points off turnovers statistic (19-19 tie) … La Salle became the 10th of Penn’s 12 opponents to shoot below 45 percent from the field … For just the second time in the last nine games, Penn had fewer turnovers (15) than its opponent (18) … Penn set a team season low for assists (11) and tied a team low in field goals made (20) … Penn’s 20 first-half points were a season low for any half this season … La Salle’s 17-0 run that bridged the halves was the longest unanswered scoring run against Penn this season … Sophomore Tony Hicks led Penn with 16 points, giving him 39 points in the last two games (he had 24 combined in the four games before that) … Hicks leads Penn with nine double-digit scoring performances this season, and has 24 for his career … Hicks has led Penn in scoring in four games this season … Senior Fran Dougherty scored 14 points, his third-straight double-figure scoring game and sixth this season (16th career) … Dougherty had nine rebounds, his sixth time in the last seven games with nine or more boards … Dougherty has led Penn in rebounding in seven of the last eight games … Dougherty also tied a career best with three blocked shots … Sophomore Jamal Lewis set a season best with three steals, while senior Miles Jackson-Cartwright tied a season high with two steals … Freshman Matt Howard set season/career highs in points (6), rebounds (3) and minutes (16) … Freshman Dylan Jones set season/career highs in rebounds (3) and minutes (9) … Seniors Dau Jok and Steve Rennard tied season bests with three points apiece … Freshman Preston Troutt set season/career highs in assists (2) and minutes (3) … Jackson-Cartwright now has 1,219 points for his career which is 25th in Penn history; Dick Censits (1956-58) is 24th with 1,220 points, while Dave Wohl (1969-71) is 23rd with 1,226 points and Ron Haigler (1971-73) is 22nd with 1,236 points.