DOVER, Del. - The University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team kept its poise down the stretch on Tuesday night at Delaware State, and made the key plays to gain a 60-54 win over the Hornets.
With the victory, The Quakers are now 3-0 for the first time since the 1981-82 season. Delaware State fell to 0-2.
Penn was down, 52-51, with less than three minutes left, but scored seven straight points to deliver the knockout. The first bucket came when Darien Nelson-Henry found a cutting Matt Howard along the right baseline for a layin that put the Quakers back in front. After a defensive stop, Nelson-Henry punctuated his game-high 16-point night by making a nice move on the left post that ended with him rolling home a lefty layup.
Delaware State missed a three-pointer that could have tied it with 1:19 left, and after working the shot clock down the Quakers’ Sam Jones missed a three-point shot. Howard flew through the lane, though, and tipped home the rebound to make it a two-possession contest with less than 45 seconds left.
Another DSU miss led to a pair of Antonio Woods free throws, and he made one out of two to make the score 58-52. At that point the Hornets finally scored again, then fouled Darnell Foreman on Penn’s inbounds. Foreman made both, which set the final score.
This was a gutty win for Penn, which shot just 3-of-23 on three-pointers. In addition to Nelson-Henry, Woods finished the night with 11 points and a game-high six assists. Sam Jones had 10 points, while Howard finished with eight points and a career-high nine rebounds.
Delaware State scored the game’s first eight points, and led by as many as nine early (14-5). Bolstered by a spark from Jackson Donahue, Penn scrapped back into it, and appropriately it was Donahue’s trey that punctuated a 13-2 stretch that put the Quakers in front, 18-16. Amazingly, Delaware State would lead just one more time -- at 52-51, before Penn’s finishing run.
The game was tied at halftime, 26-26, but Penn scored the first nine points of the second half. The lead was still 39-31 when the Quakers hit a scoring drought, allowing DSU to get within a point, at 41-40, with eight minutes to play.
The score was tied, 45-45, before Woods had a personal four-point run with two free throws and a floater that put the Quakers back in front. However, DSU sandwiched a pair of buckets around a Woods turnover to tie it back up, 49-49.
With 3:30 left, Woods drove the lane and found an open Nelson-Henry for a layup that made the score 51-49. However, at the other end the Hornets got a hoop-and-harm, and made the free throw for a 52-51 lead with 2:57 to play. At that point, the Quakers made the winning plays.
Penn returns to action on Saturday at the University of Washington. The Quakers and Huskies will tip off at noon (3 p.m. Eastern) in a game that will be televised live on the Pac-12 Network.