PHILADELPHIA – For the second time in as many games, the University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team was able to make the plays down the stretch and gain a critical win. Friday night’s was doubly important as last Saturday’s victory over Saint Joseph’s, however, as this time the Quakers won an Ivy League game. The victim was Dartmouth, and the final score was 58-51.
Penn’s nine-point lead had diminished to three with just 1:35 to play after an Alex Mitola three-point basket. The Quakers’ possession ended with Greg Louis’ shot being blocked by Connor Boehm, but Dartmouth could not capitalize as Malik Gill – trying to force a foul call – airballed a three-point attempt that could have tied the game.
Penn had the ball with about a 10-second differential on the shot clock. With the shot clock near expiration, freshman Antonio Woods drove the lane and hit a jumper that deadened against the back of the rim and dropped through. That made the score 56-51 with just eight seconds left, and then another freshman secured the win as Darnell Foreman stole the Big Green’s inbound pass. The ball got to Woods, who was fouled, and he hit two free throws to set the final score.
After a sloppy first half by both teams that ended with the score just 20-16 in Penn’s favor, the second half was far more entertaining. The Quakers got out quickly in the second stanza, bulding its lead to double digits before four minutes had passed and eventually blowing it out to a 13-point margin.
That’s when Dartmouth suddenly got hot from behind the arc. After missing its first 10 trey attempts, the Big Green hit the trifecta on three straight possessions. The final one, by Boehm, made the score 47-39. Later, Gill hit his second longball to make the score 50-45.
Woods -- who finished with 10 points on the night -- hit a shot near the end of the shot clock to make the score 52-45, but Gill answered with a layup. Tony Hicks, who scored all of his 11 points in the second half Friday, missed a jumper but got his own rebound. He then missed a layup, and Darien Nelson-Henry was called for a foul on the ensuing rebound. Boehm went to the other end and hit one of two foul shots to make the score 52-48.
Hicks was fouled near the end of the shot clock and with just 2:01 on the game clock by John Golden, and he hit both free throws to push Penn’s lead back up to six, at 54-48. However, Mitola hit an absolute rainbow three after Gill rebounded his own missed trey attempt. That set the stage for the dramatic finish.
Matt Howard was the story for Penn on Friday night; the sophomore scored a career-high 18 points and grabbed five rebounds. Greg Louis also had another solid performance, going for 10 points and eight rebounds in an active role at both ends. Hicks and Woods had 11 points each.
For Dartmouth, Gill scored 15 points while Gabas Maldunas had 14 and Boehm finished with 10. Mitola entered the game as the Big Green’s leading scorer, but finished with just six points on a 2-of-11 night from the field.
Penn returns to action again tomorrow night at The Palestra, tipping off with defending Ivy League champion Harvard at 7 p.m. The Crimson defeated Princeton on Friday night, 75-72.
Game Notes: Penn improved to 5-3 this season when leading at the half; 6-2 when shooting a better field-goal percentage than its opponent; 5-2 when making more free throws than its opponent; and 2-0 when hitting more three-pointers than its opponent … Penn shot 60 percent on three-point shots (6 of 10), a season best … For the second time in as many games, Penn held its opponent to fewer than 20 points in the first half (Dartmouth had 16 on Friday) … Penn is 5-0 this season when holding its opponent below 60 points, and is 28-6 in such games in the Jerome Allen coaching era … Penn outrebounded its opponent for the 12th time in 16 games this season … Sophomore Matt Howard scored a career-high 18 points to lead Penn in scoring for the second time this season … Howard set a season/career high with three three-point baskets … Junior Tony Hicks scored 11 points, all in the second half, for his team-leading 12th double-figure scoring game this season and the 48th of his Penn career … Antonio Woods also scored 11 points, his sixth double-figure scoring game this season … Senior Greg Louis scored 10 points, his fourth double-figure scoring game this season; Penn is 4-0 in those games … Louis also led Penn in rebounding for the fifth time this season, with eight boards which was one shy of his season high … Freshman Mike Auger tied a season/career high with two assists … Freshman Sam Jones hit a three-pointer in the first half, his first field goal in a game since December 22 (at Vanderbilt) … Hicks now has 937 points for his career; he needs 63 to reach 1,000.
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