BALTIMORE - Mama always said there would be days like this.
A young, inexperiencedPenn men's basketball team --just two days removed from a dramatic, emotional, overtime loss at The Palestra to open the season-- came back to play a Sunday matinee against a Loyola (Md.) team that has experience and athleticism and is picked among the favorites in its conference.
The result was an 89-68 loss for the Quakers that was not nearly as close as that.
Sunday'sgame was the first of four that Penn is playingas part ofthe Philly Hoop Group Classic, an eight-team, 16-game tournament that will culminate with eight games at The Palestra over Thanksgiving weekend.
Penn (0-2) was down 17 at the half. The doubters had plenty of ammunition following those opening 20 minutes -- the Quakers had turned it over 14 times against Loyola's aggressive press, and never looked comfortable offensively. The optimists joked that, after falling behind 17 to Drexel in the second half before coming back to force overtime two nights ago, maybebeing down 17 at halftime wouldgive the Quakersmore than enoughtime to make it up.
Unfortunately for all, it was more of the same in the second half, as the aptly-named Greyhounds (1-1) pulled away in a choppy, foul-plagued second half -- the teams combined for 34 fouls and 48 free throws in the final 20 minutes. Loyola'slead bulged to 23 in the first five minutes of the second stanza, and swelled to 30 with 10:40 still left thanks to a 12-2 Greyhound run. It stayed that way pretty much the rest of the way, except for the final few minutes when Penn scored the game's last 10 points -- highlighted by senior Joe Gill scoring his first collegiatefield goalon a dunk, getting fouled on the play, and sinking the free throw.
Some players simply did not seem to have their legs under them -- Aron Cohen, for example, had a career-high 12 points on four treys Friday night, but front-rimmed nearly every shot he took Sunday in scoring just four. Brian Grandieri, who was incredible in the second half Friday night,got few open looksthe entire game and had just three points in 23 minutes.
Sophomore Andreas Schreiber led Penn Sunday with 13 points and five rebounds; it was his first game in double figures as a collegian. Classmate Justin Reilly also reached double digits for the first time, with 10 points, and he had three boards.
For Loyola, Michael Tuck and Gerald Brown set the tone with dominant first halves. Brown finished the first 20 minutes with 19 points, while Tuck hit three three-pointers en route to 13. They combined for the game's first seven points, before Penn began scrapping back into it, with nine of the next 13 to make it an 11-9 game.
Loyola went on another 7-0 run, making the score 18-9, before the Quakers used a 6-0 streak to make it 18-15. After the teams traded buckets, the Greyhounds used an 8-0 run that made it 28-17. Penn got the deficit inside double digits only two times after that -- at 28-20 on a three-pointer by Jack Eggleston, and 33-24 on an Eggleston layin -- but Loyola seized all momentum in the final 1:24 with a 10-2 run that made the score 43-26 at the break.
Head coach Glen Miller again worked several players in as he tried to find the right combination on the floor. Of the 15 players who dressed Sunday, 12 got in the game before the break. One of the three who did not, junior Kevin Egee, played 13 minutes in the second stanza.
It was just one of those days.
Penn has a week to get ready for its second opponent in the Philly Hoop Group Classic, Howard (led by former longtime Penn assistant coach Gil Jackson). Jackson and the Bison will beat The Palestra Saturday for a 5 p.m. tipoff.