Men's Basketball Falls to No. 17 Pitt, 78-58

Box Score (PDF)

PHILADELPHIA -For the second time in as many years, the Penn men's basketball team never allowed a ranked Pittsburgh team to run away, but the Quakers were unable to give the Panthers much cause for concern in a 78-58 loss Friday night at The Palestra.

In a game that Pitt led wire-to-wire, the Panthers' largest lead was its final one. In fact, this was still just an 11-point game with just under four minutes to play, but Pitt went on a 12-3 run to end it with a flourish.

Penn was certainly spirited throughout the first half; on more than one occasion it looked like Pitt might run away with Friday's game early, but each time the Quakers got back. It was mostly senior Zack Rosen who kept the Red and Blue in the game, as he finished the half with 13 points and two assists and seemed to hit shots from outside the building at times. At the half Pitt's lead was 35-29.

Pitt jumped out to a 12-4 lead, but Tyler Bernardini and Rosen scored all the points as Penn went on a 9-2 run to get within a point. The Panthers responded with six straight to go up 20-13 on the way 24-15, but Rosen had nine of Penn's next 12 as the Quakers got within 30-27. Pitt's lead was 35-29 at the break.

Rob Belcore opened the second half with a pair of free throws, but Pitt answered with a pair of old-fashioned three-point plays to go up 41-31 and kept its lead hovering between single and double digits for almost the entirety of the game after that. Penn drew within eight on a pair of occasions midway through the half, the last time at 53-45, but Pitt responded with eight of the next 10 points to make the score 61-47.

Rosen finished the night with 22 points to lead all scorers, while Bernardini had 14 to go with a team-high five rebounds and two steals.

Pitt was led by Ashton Gibbs (16 points), while Khem Birch had 15 points and 10 rebounds in 28 minutes of action. Nasir Robinson (14 points) and J.J. Moore (12) also hit double figures in the scoring column.

Penn will conclude the Philly Hoop Group Classic with a 7 p.m. game on Saturday against James Madison, which beat Rider 86-69 Friday afternoon at The Palestra. The first meeting between the Quakers and the Dukes will follow La Salle and Rider, who tip off at 4:30 p.m.

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Penn-Pitt Game Notes: For the first time this season, Penn shot a lower percentage from the field than its opponent ... Senior guard Zack Rosen hit for 22 points, his fourth 20-point game this season, and had six three-pointers which was one shy of the career high he set earlier this season ... Sophomore Cameron Gunter, who scored all of his 12 points last season in one game (at Columbia), had three points for the 13th, 14th and 15th of his collegiate career ... Freshman forward Henry Brooks set a season/career high with four rebounds.

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