PHILADELPHIA - Penn and Navy hooked up in a game that Quaker head coach Glen Miller described afterward as “sloppy” and “ugly.”
Still, when it was over he was not about to trade it in.
Penn won the affair, 71-67, to conclude the Quakers’ play in the inaugural Philly Hoop Group Classic. The game was the third of four at The Palestra Saturday.
Saturday night’s game was the third in three seasons between these teams, and the 78th meeting overall between Penn and Navy in men’s basketball. With the win, the Quakers extended their streak of wins over Patriot League teams to 23. Taking it further, since Penn played Navy on Dec. 4, 1992, the Quakers have gone a combined 34-1 against the Patriot League.
Penn (2-4) placed four players in double figures for the third-straight game, led by senior Brian Grandieri who had 18 points to go with a game-leading nine rebounds. Freshman Tyler Bernardini had his third-straight game in double figures, with 15 points, while classmate Harrison Gaines scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Sophomore Justin Reilly came off the bench to score 10 points and snare seven boards.
For Navy (2-5), Greg Sprink had a game-high 22 points, but he did so on just 6-of-24 shooting from the field, and it was Sprink who took the last few shots that did not fall for the Midshipmen. Kaleo Kina had 12 points and seven rebounds, while Chris Harris had 11 points.
Unlike Friday night’s loss to Virginia where Penn was never really in it this game was in question all the way to the end. In fact, with 3:14 to play Harris hit a pair of free throws that turned a one-point Penn lead into a one-point Navy advantage.
It ended up being the last lead the Middies would have. Bernardini hit a jumper with exactly three minutes to play, making the score 56-55, and then Jack Eggleston turned a steal into a layup at the other end that gave Penn a three-point lead.
Navy called timeout, but Grandieri got a steal on the Middies’ ensuing possession and that led to a Bernardini layup and a five-point Penn advantage.
Navy finally scored again, on a Kina layup, but Penn scored the next four points to take a 64-57 lead with less than a minute to go and effectively end the contest.
Points were hard to come by in the early going Saturday, as Penn held just a 2-0 lead after the first media timeout and the score was tied, 6-6, at the midway point of the first half. Navy scored 10 of the game’s next 13 points at that juncture, taking a 16-9 lead with five minutes to go before halftime.
The lead was eight, before Penn got it back to three at the break (26-23). Penn then scored the first eight points of the second stanza to take a 31-26 lead. Reilly was the catalyst to that run, starting it with two foul shots and finishing it with a three-pointer.
Navy got two of the points back on a Mark Veazey layup, but Penn answered with another six-point run, this time on layups by Gaines and Bernardini and then two freebies by Bernardini. That made the score 37-28 with 15 minutes left.
The Quaker lead was still seven (42-35) with just over 10 minutes to go, before Navy went on a 12-0 run to take a 47-42 edge. Penn got a layup from Gaines and a pair of free throws from Michael Kach to get it back to 47-46. The teams then traded points for several minutes, until Penn’s game-ending run.
Penn is back in action Wednesday night, taking on another Patriot League team in Lafayette. That game will be played in Easton and tip off at 7 p.m.