PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team fought back valiantly in the second half at Brown on Friday night, but could not come all the way back and fell to the Bears, 75-69, at the Pizzitola Sports Center.
Penn trailed by as many as 19 points in the second half, but led by Tony Hicks -- who scored his 1,000th career point during tonight’s game -- the Quakers got as close as four in the final minutes before time ran out on the comeback.
So who helped Hicks during that second-half surge? How about freshmen Antonio Woods (who played all 20 minutes in the period), Sam Jones (18 second-half minutes), Darnell Foreman (18), and Dan Dwyer (16 minutes).
Penn dropped to 7-17 overall (2-8 Ivy League). Brown (13-15, 4-7 Ivy) won its second in a row and earned its second straight season sweep of the Quakers.
Led by JR Hobbie, who hit five of his six three-point attempts in the first half, Brown jumped out to a 17-5 lead before the game was five minutes old. Penn settled down and gradually cut into the Bears’ lead, getting as close as 21-16 when Mike Auger took a pass from Woods and slammed one home.
It was still a six-point game (26-20) when Brown broke it open again. The Bears scored eight straight points -- punctuated by, what else, a Hobbie trey -- and that made the score 34-20. The advantage bulged to as much as 17 before settling on 41-28 at the half.
The teams traded baskets out of the halftime break, but then Brown reeled off the next six points to make it 49-30 and forced Penn coach Jerome Allen to call a timeout.
Hicks hit back-to-back buckets to make it a 52-37 game with a little more than 14 minutes left in the game. The baskets pushed him past the 1,000-point mark for his career. Hicks is the 39th player in program history to reach the milestone, and the first since Miles Jackson-Cartwright during the 2012-13 season.
Though the players probably didn’t know the milestone had been reached, the Quakers suddenly picked up their play. In fact, after a Jones trey and a Hicks layup, the Brown lead was single digits (55-47) with 10 minutes still to play.
Tavon Blackmon personally righted the ship for Brown; first he drove and was fouled, hitting one of the two foul shots, and then after an empty Penn possession he drained a long three-pointer to make the score 59-47 with 9:10 left.
Penn got back within single digits, Dwyer finishing a nice feed from Hicks and then Jones nailing a long two-pointer. Then Foreman blocked a shot by Blackmon, and that set Penn off on a 2-on-1 that ended with another Hicks layup to make the score 59-53 with 6:54 to play.
Once again, Brown stemmed the tide. First Patrick Triplett knocked down both ends of a 1-and-1, and then Rafael Maia shook free for a layup on the Bears’ next possession. Woods scored the game's next five points, though, on a layup and a trey to bring Penn within 63-58.
Blackmon saved a broken Brown possession when a loose ball rolled to him and he hit a three-pointer, but that was answered by Jones from beyond the arc. However, Hobbie -- who had been held in check by Foreman for the entire half to that point -- finally shook free long enough to hit his sixth trey of the game to make it 69-63 coming out of the final media timeout.
Cedric Kuakumensah and Woods traded baskets after that, and then Brown held the ball, missed a shot, but got its own rebound and held it some more. Eventually, however, Blackmon’s jumper was blocked by Foreman, who then got the ball and fed a streaking Hicks to make it 71-67 with 48 seconds left.
After a Penn timeout the Quakers fouled Kuakumensah on the inbounds, but he hit both ends of the 1-and-1. At the other end, Hicks found Foreman for a layup, and it was 73-69.
This time Penn fouled Steven Spieth. He missed his first, made the second. Then Hicks put a shot up from about 10 feet that went over an outstretched Spieth but was off the mark, and Kuakumensah rebounded. He was fouled, made one of two, and the Quakers could not score again as the clock ran out.
Hicks finished the night with 23 points, 16 of them coming in the second half. Woods added 15 points and a career-high eight assists, while Jones knocked down 13 points including a trio of treys. For Brown, Hobbie finished the night with 21 points (going 6-9 beyond the arc) while Blackmon had 16. Maia finished with a double-double (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Kuakumensah nearly joined him (13 points, 9 rebounds).
Penn concludes its four-game road trip tomorrow night at Ivy co-leader Yale. The Quakers and the Bulldogs will tip off at 7 p.m. in a game that can be watched nationally for free on ESPN3 or the WatchESPN app.