PHILADELPHIA – Playing just its second game in 21 days, the University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team stayed with its opponent for a portion of the opening half but could not respond when the home team got going once again. This time the opponent was La Salle, the site was the Tom Gola Arena, and the final score was 84-67.
Penn fell to 3-7 overall with the loss, while the Explorers -- who have now beaten the Quakers eight straight times -- improved to 8-5 with their fourth win in the last five games.
La Salle gained control of this game from the start, and continually pushed its lead throughout the first half. The key was a 7-0 run that turned a 23-21 game into a 30-21 Explorer advantage. From there, the hosts’ lead went into double digits. Penn got as close as seven later in the period (40-33), but La Salle scored seven of the final nine points before the intermission to go into the locker room up 47-35.
Penn made it 51-42 early in the second half, but La Salle blitzed the Quakers with a 10-2 run in the span of a minute before the first media timeout to make the score 61-44 when the timeout finally arrived.
Darien Nelson-Henry led Penn in scoring with 15 points, while Tony Hicks had 10. Mike Auger saw his first action since November 22 and made an impact, scoring nine points and grabbing three rebounds, while Greg Louis also scored nine points and snared four boards.
Penn is off for another 11 days before opening the Ivy League campaign at archrival Princeton on Saturday, Jan. 10. The Quakers and Tigers will tip off at 5 p.m.
Game Notes: Penn shot 26-of-50 from the field, the fourth time the Quakers have been above 50 percent this season … Penn was 4-of-9 on three-point shots, the third time in four games the Quakers were above 40 percent from beyond the arc (after not meeting that mark in any of their first six games) … Penn had a season-high 10 steals in the game … Freshman Mike Auger played for the first time since November 22, after missing six games to injury; he scored nine points and was 4-of-4 from the field in 23 minutes … Senior Greg Louis set new career highs in assists (3) and steals (3) … Freshman Antonio Woods tied a season/career high with four assists … Sophomore Matt Howard set a career high with four steals.