PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team erupted for 48 points in the second half on Sunday evening, on the way to a 77-61 victory over Central Connecticut State.
With the win, Penn is 2-0 to start the season for the first time since the 2005-06 campaign. That team finished 20-9 and won the Ivy League title. CCSU, which opened the season with a double-overtime loss to Hartford on Friday, fell to 0-2.
Despite allowing CCSU to start 4-for-5 from the floor, Penn was able to stay even with the Blue Devils through the first 10 minutes, holding them to three of their next 12.
The Quakers struggled from behind the arc in the early going, making just one of their first 12 shots from three-point range. However, Penn was 5-for-10 otherwise and kept pace throughout the first half.
In all, Penn was 3-for-16 from three-point land in the first half. However, Sam Jones was 2-for-5 and Antonio Woods knocked down a triple with 20 seconds remaining to tie things at 29 at the break.
The Quakers would leave little doubt in the second half, scoring 48 points and shooting better than 57 percent (15-for-26) from the field including a 6-of-12 performance from three.
Penn found its stroke early in the period, when Matt Howard was good from long range to give the Quakers a one-point lead, followed by Jones making back-to-back threes to give Penn a 42-36 advantage early in the second half.
Darnell Foreman followed suit minutes later, making a three of his own to give the Quakers a 12-point lead, before Jones again struck from three, his fifth of the game, making it 57-44 with under 12 minutes.
After CCSU cut the lead to nine with 10 minutes left, sophomore Mike Auger provided a spark by knocking down his first collegiate three-pointer to push the lead back to 12. Auger then took a charge on the ensuing possession, to the delight of The Palestra crowd.
With the shot clock running down late in the second half, Woods hit a fadeaway from the free-throw line to give the Quakers their largest lead of the game at 72-55.
Penn’s defense held the Blue Devils to just 3-for-14 from deep and 42.4 percent from the field. CCSU scored 32 points in the second half, unable to keep pace with the Quakers’ staggering output to finish off the win.
Jones led all scorers for the second-consecutive game with 23 points and Darien Nelson-Henry notched his first double-double of the year, putting up 10 points and grabbing 10 boards.
The Quakers look to make it three in a row to start the season when they head to Delaware State on Tuesday to tip off with the Hornets at 7 p.m.