ELON, N.C. In a game that had plenty of thrills down the stretch, the Penn men’s basketball team defeated Elon, 66-64.
The Phoenix had a chance to tie or win with the final possession, but LeVonn Jordan’s shot from the right elbow banged off the rim and time ran out before anyone could secure the rebound.
It was Penn’s closest win this season; in fact, the Quakers had not had a game closer than nine points since the season opener with UTEP (a 69-66 loss).
The win was also Glen Miller's 100th as a Division I head coach; he entered the game with six wins as the Penn head coach after recording a 93-99 mark in seven years at Brown.
Penn (7-6) was led by Ibrahim Jaaber’s 14 points, while senior center Steve Danley had a great game with 11 points and eight boards, to go with two assists and two steals. They were the only Penn players to reach double figures, although every other starter Mark Zoller, Kevin Egee and Brian Grandieri had at least seven points. Off the bench, Michael Kach added eight points and four rebonds, while Tommy McMahon had seven points.
Penn overcame woeful foul shooting (13-of-25 on the day) by committing just 11 turnovers, including only four in the second half. The Quakers also picked it up a notch or two at the defensive end, and forced 18 Elon turnovers.
For Elon (3-10), Chris Chalko had 17 points including five three-pointers, while Jordan had 16 points and seven rebounds. Brett James scored 15 points.
Penn had a chance to put this one away early in the second half, as Elon scored just one field goal in the first 11 minutes of the stanza. However, the best the Quakers could muster was a nine-point lead. Down, 48-39, Elon finally started to get in a flow offensively. Chalko, in particular, caught on fire he drained three treys over a span of four minutes, the last of which put the Phoenix up for the first time in the half, 55-53.
Zoller quickly put Penn back up with a three of his own, but after Elon’s Jordan got inside for a layup, Zoller fouled out on a highly questionable call under the Penn basket.
Penn got a steal off the Elon possession, but Jaaber missed on a fast-break pullup and then immediately fouled Elon’s Brian Waters. Waters hit one of his two foul shots to give the Phoenix a 58-56 lead.
Jaaber hit a three-pointer from the left wing to put Penn back up, 59-58, before Jordan hit a pair of free throws to give Elon the lead back with 1:37 to play.
Out of a timeout, however, Penn took a two-point lead when Kach received a nice pass from Jaaber, swooped underneath for a reverse layup and was fouled on the play. He hit the free throw for the conventional three-point play, and Penn was up 62-60. Following a missed jumper by Waters, Grandieri shook free for a layup off a nice assist from McMahon to push the Quaker lead to for points.
Jordan streaked down for a quick layup, and then after Penn’s inbounds the Phoenix fouled McMahon. He made good on one of his two shots to give the Quakers a 65-62 lead, but Jordan again scored quickly to cut the lead to one.
McMahon was again fouled on the inbounds, and after missing his first he drained the second shot with 6.7 seconds left on the clock. That set up Jordan’s final attempt.
Penn got off to a slow start in the first half, as Elon was red-hot from the floor. The Phoenix scored the game’s first seven points, before the Quakers finally answered with a layin by Grandieri. Within a few minutes, the teams were tied, 9-9.
The teams continued to go back-and-forth, with Elon gaining the largest lead after that opening-game run (23-18) but the Quakers coming back and taking the 33-32 lead just before halftime on a McMahon three-pointer.
Penn is now off until next weekend, when the Quakers open Ivy League play at Cornell (Friday) and Columbia (Saturday).