PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team started slowly on Saturday night, worked hard to catch up with Lafayette, but could never quite catch the veteran Leopards and ultimately fell, 83-77, at The Palestra.
Penn (0-3) trailed by as many as 17 in the first half and 15 at the break, but got as close as two points (62-60) midway through the second stanza. The Quakers had four opportunities to tie or take the lead after that, but were unable to convert shots, and Lafayette eventually used the reprieve to go on a 9-1 run that opened the lead back up to 10 points (71-61).
For the second straight game, Penn was led offensively by Tony Hicks and Mike Auger. Hicks scored 14 points, but more impressively he dished out 13 assists (against just two turnovers). That tied the program’s single-game record for assists, a mark previously reached by only Zack Rosen, Tim Begley, and Dave Wohl. Hicks also finished the contest with four steals, tying a career high.
Auger, meanwhile, was again an energetic force on the floor for the Quakers. He finished his third collegiate game with 18 points and nine rebounds -- just one board short of his first double-double -- and set the crowd off with his steal and dunk that made it a two-point game with 9:28 to play. For the night, Auger went 7-of-10 from the floor and a perfect 4-of-4 at the foul line.
The duo had help on this night. Darien Nelson-Henry had a steady night on the block, scoring 13 points and shooting 5-of-9 from the field. Antonio Woods, meanwhile, had another 11-point game -- knocking down a trio of three-point shots -- and added four rebounds and four assists.
Lafayette (3-1) -- which led by nine points before the game was five minutes old, and never let Penn get closer than five the rest of the half – was led by Dan Trist’s 22 points, while Joey Ptasinski scored 18 (including five treys) and Seth Hinrichs had 10 (many of them late and at the foul line). Nick Lindner stuffed the stat box with nine points, six assists and three steals.
Penn makes its first road trip of the season on Tuesday, but it is a short one. The Quakers travel up to North Broad to face Big 5 rival Temple and old friend Fran Dunphy at 7 p.m. Tuesday’s game can be viewed live nationwide on ESPN3.com.
Game Notes: Penn cut a 17-point deficit to two points (62-60), but never tied or held the lead in Saturday’s game … After going 0-for-7 on three-point shots in the first half, Penn was 6-of-11 (54.5 percent) beyond the arc in the second half … Junior Tony Hicks tied a Penn single-game record for assists, with 13. This mark had been attained three times previously, by Zack Rosen (2/5/2011 vs. Harvard); Tim Begley (1/18/2005 vs. Lafayette); and Dave Wohl (2/14/1970 vs. Brown) … Hicks 14 points; he is the only Penn player to reach double figures in scoring in all three games so far this season … Hicks also tied a career high with four steals … Freshman Mike Auger nearly had his first collegiate double-double, with 18 points and nine rebounds … After going scoreless in Penn’s opening game, Auger has 28 points in the last two games and has shot 12-of-17 (70.6 percent) from the field in that time … Freshman Antonio Woods had his second double-figure scoring game in three outings, with 11 points … Woods knocked down three three-point shots on Saturday, a season/career high … Junior Darien Nelson-Henry had his first double-figure scoring game this season (his 24th at Penn) with 13 points … Senior Greg Louis had eight points, his best offensive output since he scored eight last January 2 at George Mason … After missing the first two games to injury, sophomore Dylan Jones saw his first game action of 2014-15 and had six points and three rebounds in nine minutes.