ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team jumped out to a large second-half lead, had some trouble putting away Navy, but ultimately made the plays it needed to make in defeating the Midshipmen, 57-46. Wednesday’s game was played at Navy’s Alumni Hall and provided the Quakers with their first win this season.
Penn led by as many as 19 with 12 minutes left in the game, 49-30, but Navy (2-6) scored 14 of the game’s next 17 points as the Quakers stagnated on offense. When Brandon Venturini knocked down a three-point for the Midshipmen, Penn’s lead was just 52-44 and there was still 5:25 left to play.
Penn was able to lock down on defense, and received a huge boost when Darnell Foreman knocked down a jumper in the lane a minute after Venturini’s trey. That put the Quakers’ lead back in double digits, at 54-44.
Penn continued to struggle offensively, but Navy also had its problems and could not get back within single digits. The Quakers finally added to their lead with 2:34 to play off a nice escape from a double-team out top, Tony Hicks finding Matt Howard who quickly fed Darien Nelson-Henry for a layup.
The teams were tied in the first half, 10-10, before Penn went on a 9-2 run that was triggered by a Hicks three-pointer. Navy briefly ended the streak when Tilman Dunbar knocked down a long jumper, but the Quakers scored the next eight points over a four-minute period as Sam Jones sandwiched a pair of treys around a Dylan Jones bucket. That made Penn’s lead 27-14, and it was up to 38-21 at the halftime break.
Hicks finished the game with a team-high 14 points, and tied a career high with eight rebounds while also dishing out five assists. Nelson-Henry, meanwhile, collected his first double-double of the season with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Foreman scored nine points, a season/career high for the freshman. Penn outrebounded Navy 36-31 and had season highs in steals (9) and blocked shots (5).
For Navy, Edward Alade and Zach Fong led the way with eight points each.
Penn is back in action on Saturday, traveling to Binghamton to tip off with the Bearcats at 2 p.m.
Game Notes: Penn allowed just 46 points, the fewest by an opponent since Brown scored 43 in a loss to the Quakers on March 2, 2012 … It was Penn’s lowest point total in a win since a 54-53 victory at NJIT on January 17, 2013 … Penn led for all but 2:01 in the game, and never trailed or was tied after taking an 11-10 lead with 10:43 left in the first half … After wearing their road reds in the first two road games (and losing), Penn wore their road blues in Wednesday night’s win … Penn had season highs in blocked shots (5) and steals (9); it was the Quakers’ highest steal total since they got 10 last January 2 at George Mason … Penn outrebounded Navy, 36-31, the fifth time in six games that the Quakers have outboarded their opponent this season … For the second straight game, Penn took and made more free throws than its opponent; that did not happen in any of the first four contests this season … Junior Tony Hicks led Penn with 14 points; he has led the Quakers in scoring four times in six games this season … Hicks also tied a career high with eight rebounds; the other time he did that was November 12, 2013 at Monmouth … Junior Darien Nelson-Henry came up with his first double-double of the season (11 points, 10 rebounds); it was the sixth double-double of his career, and Penn is 5-1 in those games … Nelson-Henry’s rebound total was one shy of his career high, and he also tied a season/career best with three assists … Freshman Darnell Foreman had season/career highs in points (9) and blocked shots (2) … Sophomore Matt Howard tied season/career highs in assists (2) and steals (3), and set a career best in blocked shots (2) … Freshman Sam Jones tied his season/career high in rebounds (4), and set season/career bests in assists (3), steals (2) and minutes (24).