PHILADELPHIA - Penn had some trouble shaking off Harvard Saturday night, but used a 10-point run with about seven minutes left to defeat the Crimson, 67-53, in men's basketball action Saturday night at The Palestra.
The Quakers' win, coupled with Yale's 60-59 loss at Cornell, pushed the Quakers into first place in the Ivy League standings at 5-1. Penn is 14-8 overall. Harvard fell to 10-12, 3-5 in the Ivy League.
"It was a good win for us tonight," said the John R. Rockwell Head Coach of Men's Basketball, Glen Miller. "For the second night in a row I thought we played good defense. We still didn’t rebound the ball the way we’d like to, but our defensive intensity has been much better the last two nights. We had too many first-half turnovers, but we cut those down in the second half andgot the ball inside more."
Mark Zoller scored 17 points and had eight rebounds and five assists to lead Penn, while Brennan Votel came off the bench for a career-high 11 points and four boards. Perhaps most amazing, he hit Penn's only three-pointer of the night (the Quakers went 1-of-10 from beyond the arc for the game). Steve Danley and Brian Grandieri had 10 points apiece, and Grandieri nearly had a double-double as he came up with nine rebounds.
"We had a few contributions off the bench," said Miller. "Brennan did an outstanding job for us in helping us get the big win. Thatdoes a lot. I preach all the time that you can only better yourself if you keep your head up and work hard every day -- if you do that,your opportunity will come. Brendan has been struggling with his shot, and he’s been putting in the extra work. It didn’t work for him last night (against Dartmouth), but it did tonight. That’s a perfect example about what our program is about."
Penn has now won 16 games in a row at home against conference opponents, and improved to a staggering 97-9 against Ivy foes at The Palestra since losing the first Ivy home game of the 1991-92 season. It was also the Quakers' 10th in a row over the Crimson overall, and their 16th-straight victory over Harvard at The Palestra.
Harvard came into Saturday night's game off a double-overtime loss at Princeton Friday night, but the Crimson got out to a quick start when Brad Unger hit a pair of jumpers to give them a 7-2 lead. However, Penn rolled with the next 13 points, including seven in a row from Votel that made the score 15-7.
Harvard refused to go quietly, and when Drew Housman hit a layup with 6:34 to go the Crimson were up, 19-17. The teams traded baskets, before Grandieri hit a jumper to set Penn off on a 13-2 run that made the score 32-23. However, Harvard's Jim Goffredo hit a jumper and was fouled, then made the free throw to send the teams into the locker room with Penn's lead at a precarious 32-26.
The second half proved to be more of the same, as the Quakers just could not shake the pesky Crimson. It was not until Michael Kach made a pair of free throws with 10:14 left in the game that Penn's lead grew to double digits for the first time, and with 7:11 to play Goffredo hit two foul shots to make the score 50-44.
It was at that point that Penn finally shrugged off its opponent. Kevin Egee hit a jumper off an assist from Danley, then Jaaber stole the ball from Goffredo and was fouled. He hit both free throws to put the Quakers up, 54-44,before Votel hit another layup on the fast break. After a pair of Harvard turnovers, Egee finished nicely on a feed from Zoller, and then another defensive stop led to a Grandieri layup. That made the score 60-44 with four minutes to go, and Harvard was unable to answer.
For the Crimson, Goffredo led the way with 14 points, butwent just 5-of-19 from the field and drained only one of his eight three-point attempts. Evan Harris also had a nice performance for Harvard, coming up with 11 points and seven rebounds.
Penn is back at home Tuesday night, hosting Princeton as the teams renew their rivalry. Tip time is 7 p.m., and the game will be televised live on CN8.