ITHACA, N.Y. - Penn used an 18-2 run down the stretch to blow open a close game, and defeated Cornell, 74-56, in men’s basketball action Friday night at Newman Arena.
The game was the Ivy League opener for both teams, and provided Penn’s John R. Rockwell Head Coach of Men’s Basketball, Glen Miller, with his first conference win as the Quakers’ head coach.
Penn (8-6, 1-0) was led by junior forward Brian Grandieri, who finished one point shy of his career high with 18 points. Senior Mark Zoller, who had been held below double digits in scoring each of the last two games, rebounded to score 16 points and also snared seven rebounds.
However, the key may have been Kevin Egee. The sophomore guard came up with all of his 10 points during the decisive run, including a pair of dagger three-pointers on back-to-back possessions that really seemd to put this one away. It marked the first time Egee has reached double figures in his collegiate career.
Two numbers immediately stood out in Penn’s win Friday night. The Quakers committed just five turnovers in the game while forcing 16 Cornell miscues (garnering eight steals). At the same time the Quakers who entered the game with the worst free-throw shooting percentage in the Ivy League went a perfect 10-of-10 from the charity stripe, helping to complement the team’s 48.4 percent shooting.
Cornell had just one player in double figures, freshman Ryan Wittman (16 points). However, the Big Red’s leading scorer was held to just nine shots on the night, and his teammates combined with him to shoot just 39.6 percent from the field.
Penn was up 54-49 with 11 minutes to play in the game, before Grandieri hit a pair of jumpers the second a spectacular off-the-glass effort from a low angle and then Egee hit treys on consecutive possessions that made the score 64-49.
Cornell’s Graham Dow briefly quelled the Quakers’ streak with a pair of free throws out of a media timeout, but Grandieri sandwiched a pair of buckets around another Egee basket, and suddenly the score was 70-51. Egee completed the run with a pair of foul shots, pushing Penn’s lead over 20 points.
Penn used a seven-point run midway through the opening stanza to gain the lead on the Big Red, spurred by a few players off the bench Michael Kach shook free for a three-point play, and then Brennan Votel was on the receiving end of a beautiful feed from Jaaber for a layup. Grandieri (8 points in the first half) completed the run with a floater in the lane, giving the Quakers a 23-20 lead.
Penn was able to up the lead to seven points in the final minute, but Cornell gained some momentum when Jason Mitchell hit what amounted to a desperation three-pointer just seconds before the break.
Penn is back in action again Saturday night, meeting Columbia in New York City. The Lions began the Ivy season with a 64-56 win over Princeton at Levien Gym in New York. Tip time between Penn and Columbia is slated for 7 p.m., and the game will be televised live on CN8.