ITHACA, N.Y. - The storyline entering Saturday night's game was the return of the University of Pennsylvania's head coach, Steve Donahue, to Cornell's Newman Arena. The last time he coached a game in there, as the Big Red's head coach, Cornell was clinching its third Ivy League title at the expense of the Quakers.
On Saturday night, with Donahue leading the way from the visiting bench, the Quakers and Big Red engaged in a run-and-gun game that was sloppy at times but also vastly entertaining. Penn made the plays down the stretch, and came out with a 92-84 victory.
The win was Penn’s third in the last four outings, and left the Quakers 9-12 overall and 3-4 in the Ivy League. Cornell fell to 9-13 overall, 2-6 in Ivy play.
Penn’s offense came easy to start the game, and the Quakers were up by as many as 12 points in the first half at 23-11. However, Matt Morgan had a personal 12-point run for Cornell that jump-started the Big Red, and before you knew it the teams were tied up at 25-25.
Penn jumped back in front with seven-straight points, but the half ended with the Big Red scoring six in a row. The half ended with the Big Red’s Robert Hatter inbounding a ball off the backside of a Quakers defender and laying it in at the buzzer to send the teams to locker rooms with Penn up, 36-35.
Troy Whiteside gave Cornell the lead with the opening points of the second period, but Penn reeled off the next seven points to take a 43-37 lead. The Quakers never trailed after that, although Cornell drew back within a point on three separate occasions down the stretch.
Penn’s six-point lead with a minute left was whittled to two points when Robert Hatter knocked down a layup with 28 seconds left. However, Sam Jones was fouled shortly after the Quakers inbounded, and he knocked down both free throws. Matt Morgan then missed a three-point shot that Jackson Donahue rebounded. He was fouled, and made both shots. Another Cornell missed three ended up in Jones’ hands, and he made his shots to wrap it up.
Donahue had a monstrous night, hitting five three-pointers and finishing with a career-high 25 points. Matt Howard scored 20 points, going 10-of-11 from the foul line, and grabbed eight rebounds. Darien Nelson-Henry also had a massive game, scoring 15 points, snaring 16 rebounds and matching his career best with six assists. Jones scored 14 points, while Jake Silpe had seven assists.
For Cornell, Morgan finished with 28 points while Hatter scored 21 and JoJo Fallas added 16.
Penn is home for the next two weekends of Ivy League action, starting next Friday when the Quakers host Brown at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Penn entertains the Ivy League leader, Yale, at 7 p.m. Both games will air live on the Ivy League Digital Network.