Men's Basketball Can't Catch Davidson, Falls 75-70

Box Score (PDF)

DAVIDSON, N.C. - Penn men's basketball coach Jerome Allen likes to use the term "fool's gold" when things appear better than they seem. The Quakers' first half seemed a like a perfect example of that, and it looked like they might get run out of the gym for differing parts of the second half Thursday night at Davidson. However, the Red and Blue fought to the end, and it took tremendous foul shooting down the stretch by the hosts to secure the Wildcats' 75-70 win at the Belk Arena.

Penn fell to 6-7 overall, while Davidson improved to 8-4.

Penn never trailed in the first half, and took a 33-30 lead into the locker room. The revelations in the opening 20 minutes were sophomores Fran Dougherty and Steve Rennard. Dougherty, making just his second start in the last six outings, finished the first half with 10 points, while Rennard had five points. They were bolstered by another classmate, Dau Jok, who drained a three-pointer for his first collegiate field goal. It was a welcome sight in a half where Zack Rosen had just four points and uncharacteristically recorded more turnovers (3) than assists (2), and Tyler Bernardini was 1-of-7 from the field including misses on all four of his three-point attempts.

To anyone watching the game, it seemed only a matter of time before Davidson might grab the lead, and in fact that happened early in the second half as the Wildcats used a 10-2 run before the first media timeout. The run was punctuated by an emphatic slam dunk on the fast break by Chris Czerapowicz that brought the crowd to its feet.

The stoppage did Penn no good. The only Quaker point over the next three minutes came from a Mike Howlett foul shot, while Davidson got three more field goals -- two of them completely uncontested -- to extend its lead to 46-33 and force Allen to call a timeout.

Davidson's lead hovered near ten points for several minutes after that, before a Rosen trey and Miles Cartwright's old-fashioned three-point play cut the Quakers' deficit to four points at 57-53. However, Davidson came back with the next nine points -- a run helped by a technical foul called against Belcore -- and the Wildcats looked like they had put this one away with less than three minutes left.

The score was still 68-56 when Penn made its final run and made things uncomfortable for its hosts. First Marin Kukoc hit a three-pointer at the top of the key with 2:22 left, and then after Penn timeout the Quakers stole the ball from Davidson. Cartwright immediately drove to the hole and was fouled as he put up the shot. The sophomore hit both free throws, and suddenly the score was 68-61.

Penn wasn't done. Another steal came near midcourt and led to an easy dunk for Bernardini which made the score 68-63. Davidson finally got the ball into its offensive end and ran a set, but with the shot clock expiring and the game clock showing just over a minute left the Wildcats' Jake Cohen put up a shot that missed. He compounded the miss by fouling Bernardini as the Quaker senior corralled the board, and Bernardini hit both foul shots at the other end. Just like that, Penn was down just three (68-65).

Davidson's DeMon Brooks entered Thursday's game as the Wildcats' leading scorer, and after a quiet night he came up with the big basket (his seventh and eighth points of the night). From the top of the key, Brooks drove the lane, spun around his defender and laid the ball into the basket with 45 seconds left to push the lead back to five.

Penn came right down and made it a one-possession game again when Rob Belcore threw it in from the left block. At that point, however, the game clock was inside 35 seconds, so the shot clock was off and Penn was forced to foul. They chose the wrong guy. JP Kuhlman hit both of his tries with 22.4 seconds left to get the Wildcat lead back to five, then he rebounded a Rosen missed trey and was fouled again. This time he made the first but missed the second, and Penn made it a one-possession game for the third time in a minute as Bernardini hit his first three of the night with 3.1 seconds left.

Penn's defense kept Davidson from inbounding at first, forcing a timeout, but after the TO the Wildcats got it to Nik Cochran and he sank both shot with 1.5 seconds left to end it.

Bernardini ended the game with 16 points, but after red-hot performances in Penn's last two games he was just 5-of-13 from the field including 1-of-5 beyond the arc. Rosen had 14 points and led the Quakers with seven rebounds, but he also struggled from the field (5-of-14, 1-of-5 on three-pointers). And while Rosen had five more assists, leaving him just eight shy of the school's all-time record, he had six turnovers. Belcore ended the night with 10 points, matching Dougherty.

For Davidson, Czerapowicz finished with 23 points while Cochran had 16 and Kuhlman scored 11. The Wildcats ended the night shooting 27-of-33 at the foul line, led by Cochran who was a perfect 10-of-10. Cohen finished with just seven points but led all players with 10 rebounds.

Penn remains in North Carolina for the rest of this week, and will play at No. 7/5 Duke Sunday at 5 p.m. to ring in the New Year. That game will be televised live to a national audience on ESPNU.

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Penn-Davidson Game Notes: Penn fell to 5-6 all-time to Davidson and 13-7 against teams that currently play in the Southern Conference ... Penn lost for the first time this season when leading at the half (4-0 prior) ... Davidson shot 40.4 percent from the field, the 10th of Penn's 13 opponents to shoot below 45 percent this season; last year, the Quakers held just 14 of their 28 opponents below 45 percent ... Senior guard Tyler Bernardini led Penn in scoring for the third straight game, with 16 points ... Bernardini has 75 points in Penn's last three games and has six straight double-figure scoring games (19.3 average in that span) ... Senior Zack Rosen had 14 points, his team-leading 12th double-figure scoring game, and led Penn with seven rebounds ... It marked the first time this season Rosen has led Penn in rebounding in a game (he tied for the team lead with Bernardini at Villanova) ... Senior forward Rob Belcore came off the bench for the first time this season but finished the game with 10 points, his fourth straight double-figure game and the fifth in the last six outings ... Prior to this six-game run, Belcore's last double-figure scoring game came in the second-to-last game of the 2009-10 season, at Harvard ... Sophomore center Fran Dougherty tied a season/career high with 10 points, his second collegiate double-figure scoring game, and also set a new standard with two steals ... All of Dougherty's points came in the first half ... Sophomore guard Steve Rennard had five points, one shy of his season/career high; theyall came in the first half... Sophomore guard Dau Jok scored his first collegiate field goal, a three-pointer in the first half; prior to tonight, his only two points had come from the foul line, last year at Pitt ... RECORD BOOK WATCH: Rosen has 1,377 career points which puts him 12th on Penn's all-time scoring list. (Bobby Morse is 11th, with 1,381 points from 1970-72.) ... Bernardini has 1,283 career points which puts him 17th on Penn's all-time scoring list. (Joe Sturgis is 16th with 1,292 points from 1954-56, while Tyrone Pitts is 15th with 1,301 from 1985-88.) ... Rosen has 83 assists this season, giving him 498 for his career which is seven shy of the program's all-time record held by his current head coach, Jerome Allen (505) ... Rosen has played 3,440 career minutes which is sixth all-time. (Ibrahim Jaaber is fifth, with 3,569 minutes.) ... Rosen has 184 career three-point field goals which is sixth all-time. (Garett Kreitz is fifth, with 199 treys.) ... Bernardini, meanwhile, has 174 treys which is ninth all-time. (Michael Jordan is eighth, with 176.) ... Rosen has made 369 career foul shots which is eighth all-time. (Herb Lyon is seventh, with 370 made foul shots.)

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