PHILADELPHIA - For so many games this season, Penn has been its own worst enemy, with unforced errors that caused the Quakers all sorts of problems on offense.
Saturday night against Saint Joseph’s, the Quakers took better care of the ball, relatively speaking. Putting it in the basket, however, was an entirely different matter.
The Quakers (5-11) actually took more shots than the Hawks on the night, 59-56, but hit just half as many. When the final stat sheet came out, it told the story: Saint Joseph’s, using a powerful inside game but also taking advantage of its open opportunities outside, shot 57.1 percent from the field. Penn, by contrast, was just 27.1 percent.
In the end, the final score was 82-42.
The Hawks (10-5) scored the game’s first six points, and after Penn halved the lead on Tyler Bernardini’s three-point basket SJU ripped off 15 in a row. That gave them a 21-3 advantage as the teams went to their second media timeout and took any suspense out of the rest of the night. At that point, Penn had shot just 1-of-11 from the floor.
By the break, Saint Joseph’s had extended its lead to 38-14. The Quakers hit just six field goals in the opening 20 minutes, while the Hawks were 13-of-25.
Things did not get any better for Penn in the second half, as SJU scored the first five points of the stanza. The lead bulged to 30 before four minutes had passed, and escalated to as many as 42 before settling on the final score.
As evidence of how differently these teams attacked each other Saturday night, Saint Joseph’s outscored Penn in the paint, 42-18, and the Quakers took just six foul shots on the night. By contrast, Penn took 27 three-point shots by far a season high and made just five of them.
“Cameron Lewis had three good looks at the beginning of the game but just didn’t capitalize on them,” said Penn head coach Glen Miller. “Early on we did get it inside, but after awhile we missed the post quite a bit and we are not a three-point shooting team.”
For the second time in five games, Penn failed to put a single player in double figures in the scoring column junior Kevin Egee led the way with nine points, on three three-pointers. Brian Grandieri and Jack Eggleston scored eight apiece.
“Kevin Egee was more aggressive and looked for his shot and was a positive tonight,” said Miller. “He played with a little more confidence tonight.”
For SJU, Pat Calathes glided to 18 points, six rebounds and five assists in 27 minutes, while Ahmad Nivins had a big second half and finished with 15 points. Rob Ferguson was the only other Hawks player in double figures, with 12, but every SJU player scored on the night.
The Quakers are back in action Wednesday night, traveling to North Broad Street to meet Temple and complete this three-game Big 5 sweep. Wednesday night’s game will be Penn’s last non-conference game of 2007-08, and will pit the Quakers against former longtime Penn coach Fran Dunphy.