WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. - With just under four minutes remaining, and Penn clinging to a 52-51 lead over Monmouth, junior Aron Cohen received a pass and had an open look from just beyond the arc in front of the Quaker bench.
He passed it up.
A few seconds later, the ball swung back to him, in essentially the same spot.
This time, he was ready and let fly.
The bucket -- which came with 3:21 left on the clock -- served as the start to what ended up as a 10-0 run, and the result was a 69-61 Penn win at the Hawks' Boylan Gym Saturday night.
With the win, the Quakers improved to 3-7 heading into the final exam period. Monmouth, which like Penn puts a young lineup on the court, fell to 2-6.
The win was Penn's third over Monmouth in as many tries, and also improved the Quakers to a perfect 12-0 all-time against schools that currently compete in the Northeast Conference.
Cohen's bucket -- his only field goal of the game -- was followed by a missed three at the other end by Monmouth's Alex Nunner. On Penn's ensuing possession, Tyler Bernardini misseda leaner from the right side, but Jack Eggleston got the rebound and was fouled as he went up for the follow. He hit both foul shots to make the score 57-51.
Nunner missed the front end of a 1-and-1, and after the Quakers worked the clock on offense Bernardini found Brian Grandieri for an easy layup that made it an eight-point game. Another missed jumper at the other end put the Hawks in the position where they had to foul, and Justin Reilly and Grandieri made three of four attempts over the next several seconds to extend the lead to 11 and effectively put this one away.
Grandiericontinued his form of recent games, leadingall scorers Saturday night with 21 points to go with four rebounds and three assists. Bernardini added 13 points, including 10 in the second half, and Reilly had 12 points. Eggleston scored eight points, but grabbed a game-high six boards and also dished out four assists.
For Monmouth, Jhamar Youngblood was the only player to reach double figures, with 15 points. However, he was held to just two in the second half,when Penn overcame a four-point halftime deficit by outscoring the Hawks, 39-27.
Penn arrived a little late to the gym Saturday night, which cut into their warmup time. No matter. The Quakers jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the game's first four minutes as Grandieri knocked home five points, Bernardini banged a three and Reilly hit a jumper in the lane.
Monmouth drew back. Led by Youngblood and R.J. Rutledge, the Hawks finally tied the game with 7:16 left in the first half (on a layup by Rutledge) and then took their first lead (on a Youngblood foul shot). The teams stayed tight throughout the rest of the half, although Penn could not get back on top. The teams went into the locker room with Monmouth up, 34-30.
The Hawks still had that four-point lead with just over 12 minutes left in the game, before Penn used a six-point run to finally regain the lead. Eggleston started the mini-streak with a pair of foul shots, and then Bernardini hit layups on consecutive possessions that gave Penn a 42-40 advantage with exactly 11 minutes left.
Whitney Coleman drained a trey for Monmouth, but Bernardini answered with his third-consecutive basket to put Penn back in the lead and then Reilly hit a foul shot to make it 45-43.
George Barbour took advantage of his size on the blocks two times in a row, powering for buckets on consecutive possessions to put the Hawks back up, 47-45, but Reilly hit a jumper and then Eggleston finished a feed from Michael Kach that made the score 49-47 in Penn's favor. After a Monmouth turnover, Grandieri missed inside but was able to tip in the rebound in traffice, giving Penn the four-point advantage.
Penn looked like it might pull away when another turnover led to a free throw by Conor Turley, but then Nick Del Tufo hit a pair of foul shots and then a layup after a Cohen miss. That made the score 52-51.
The next time Cohen shot, he did not miss.
Penn is now off until December 20, due to University exams. The Quakers return to action against Elon. Tipoff at The Palestra is slated for 7 p.m.