CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team was game but ultimately undermanned on Friday night at Ivy co-leader Harvard. The Quakers were able to get as close as three points early in the second half, but the Crimson took control after that and cruised to a 69-46 win at the Lavietes Pavilion.
Penn is now 7-15 on the season, 2-6 in Ivy League play. Harvard improves to 18-5, 8-1 in Ivy play.
The game was just 31-28 almost three minutes into the second half after Matt Howard knocked down a jumper, and was still a manageable 37-31 with 14 minutes to play after Darnell Foreman drained a three-point basket.
It was at that point that Harvard stepped on the gas pedal. The Crimson scored the game’s next 12 points, holding Penn scoreless for more than five minutes. When Sam Jones finally knocked down a trey to end the Quakers’ drought, the Crimson responded with five more points. Overall, it was a 17-3 run that turned this contest into a rout.
Penn is playing this weekend without leading scorer Tony Hicks, who is suspended after his actions in and around last Saturday’s game against Brown. In his place, head coach Jerome Allen started sophomore Matt Poplawski. Prior to tonight, Poplawski was known more for his soccer exploits at Penn -- he is an All-Ivy midfielder -- and he had scored a grand total of three field goals and nine points for the Quakers basketball program.
Poplawski was certainly game; after two first-half fouls limited his minutes, he took a pair of charges when it was still a contest early in the second half. When the dust had settled, the sophomore had played 16 minutes and scored four points (including his first collegiate trey).
Perhaps inspired by Poplawski’s bravado, Penn hung tough with the defending champions into the second half. What was most impressive was how the Quakers responded to an early Harvard blitz; this game threatened to be over early.
Howard opened the scoring for the night, but Harvard scored the next seven points and kept rolling. The Crimson’s lead was double figures (22-11) before the first half reached its midway point and reached a high of 14 points soon after that.
At that point, Harvard went cold -- in the final 9:33 of the first half the Crimson scored just two field goals and six points. Penn took advantage, ultimately cutting the deficit to seven when Jones intercepted an alley-oop play and fed Antonio Woods, who raced down the court and hit a layup in traffic at the halftime buzzer.
Woods finished the game with a team-high 12 points to lead Penn, while Howard ended the night with 10. For Harvard, Wesley Saunders scored 15 while Steve Moundou-Missi had 14 and Siyani Chambers added 10.
Penn will continue this weekend trip with Dartmouth on Saturday night; the Quakers and the Big Green will tip off at 7 p.m. in Hanover, N.H.
Download: Harvard vs. Penn - Final Box.pdf