NEW YORK CITY – The University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team hung with Columbia well into the second half Friday night at the Lions’ Levien Gym, but a double-digit run spurred by an unlikely source propelled Columbia to the 63-53 win.
Columbia improved to 17-7 overall, and remained second in the Ivy League standings at 6-1. Penn, meanwhile, had its modest two-game winning streak ended and fell to 8-12 overall, 2-4 in Ivy play.
Unlike the previous two years, when Penn was run out of the gym early, the Quakers put up a solid fight in the first half. Matt Howard, in particular, broke out with 10 first-half points. However, a late three-pointer by Columbia’s Maodo Lo -- his third trey of the period -- gave the Lions a 28-24 lead at the break.
Columbia scored the first seven points of the second half, but Penn responded with the next eight points -- six of them from freshman Jake Silpe -- and it was 35-32 after the first media timeout of the period.
It was still a four-point Columbia lead near the midpoint of the period, before Jackson Donahue nailed a three-pointer to make the score 41-40.
Columbia scored the game’s next 11 points, seven of them (including the first five) coming from Jeff Coby. He was complemented by a driving Lo layup and a long two-pointer from Grant Mullins. That effectively took the wind out of Penn’s sails, and the Quakers could never make up the deficit.
Howard finished the night with 14 points, while Donahue had 12. Darien Nelson-Henry had his seventh double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and also set a career high with six assists.
For Columbia, Lo finished with 21 points while Mullins had 11.
Penn returns to action again tomorrow night, traveling across the state to Ithaca to take on Cornell at 6 p.m. -- Penn head coach Steve Donahue’s first game at Newman Arena since he coached the Big Red to their third-straight Ivy League title on Feb. 27, 2010. In addition to being on the Ivy League Digital Network, the game will also air for free on ESPN3.