HANOVER, N.H. - At the end of Saturday night’s men’s basketball game at Dartmouth’s Leede Arena, senior Leon Pattman closed out his final game at home in a Dartmouth uniform by draining a long three-pointer.
Fortunately for Penn, Pattman had missed on a three-pointer from the top of the key on the previous possession. So had Jason Meyer, who got a chance from the left corner after Dartmouth got the offensive rebound. Both of those could have tied the game with only seconds remaining.
Penn senior Steve Danley pulled down the rebound following Meyer’s miss, and after he was fouled he made both foul shots to give the Quakers an insurmountable five-point lead with 2.4 seconds left. Pattman’s desperation heave at the end closed the gap to two, but it was not enough as Penn escaped with the 80-78 victory.
Penn’s win, couple with Yale’s stunning 82-64 loss at home to Columbia, pushed the Quakers (19-8, 10-1 Ivy League) into a two-game lead in the loss column in the Ivy League race. With the Bulldogs (9-3 Ivy) coming to The Palestra Friday night, a Penn win in that game would clinch the Quakers’ third-straight Ivy League title and the automatic NCAA Tournament berth that comes with it.
On a night when Penn played a majority of the game without Mark Zoller he was plagued by foul trouble throughout the night it was his senior counterpart, Ibrahim Jaaber, who was among many to step up. Jaaber, the Ivy League Player of the Year last season, paced all scorers with 22 points and also had five rebounds, two assists and three blocked shots.
Danley had a stellar performance, as well, finishing with 12 points and six boards, and going 4-of-6 from the field. Brian Grandieri filled the box score with 13 points, six rebounds and six assists, while Zoller made the most of his 16 minutes by scoring 13 points.
As they did Friday night against Harvard, the Quakers got off to a quick start Saturday against Dartmouth. In fact, the score was10-0 before the game was four minutes old, thanks to a three-pointer and then a steal and dunk by Jaaber.
Dartmouth had a response, and got back to within four several times before the break. An unusual source provided a lift for the Big Green: Elgin Fitzgerald came off the bench and had eight points in the opening stanza. By halftime, Penn’s lead was six, 38-32.
The Quakers’ lead was five (55-50) before Dartmouth made a move that ultimately gave the Big Green the lead. A series of short-range jumpers made the score 58-57, Penn, before Alex Barnett hit his third jumper in the run to push Dartmouth into its first lead of the game.
Jaaber immediately put Penn back on top, finishing a feed from Tommy McMahon, but Pattman matched the effort to give the Big Green the edge. Grandieri then hit two free throws, but Pattman again gave Dartmouth the lead with another jumper. A Danley runner along the right block was cancelled out by two made foul shots from, you got it, Pattman. That made the score 65-64, Dartmouth, with 6:28 to play.
At that point, Jaaber brought the ball down and induced DeVon Mosley to foul him on a three-point shot attempt. More importantly, Jaaber made all three free throws, a springboard to a 7-0 Penn run that pushed the Quakers out to a six-point lead, 71-65.
Dartmouth got four of the points back when Mosley hit a tough layup and Pattman knocked down two more foul shots, but Zoller hit two foul shots with 2:26 to play and then, after Pattman missed a trey, Jaaber hit two free throws after being fouled trying to put back a missed trey by Danley. That made the score 75-69 with 1:38 left.
A highly questionable foul on Zoller his fifth of the game put Mosley on the line, and he hit both foul shots with 59 seconds left. Dartmouth chose to foul McMahon, and after he missed his free throws Barnett hit another jumper to pull the Big Green within 75-73 with 37 seconds left.
Out of a timeout, Danley got free for the home-run ball, and he flushed it to give Penn a four-point edge. However, Dartmouth responded when Fitzgerald put back a missed jumper by Dan Biber. This time, the Big Green fouled Danley, and the senior made the second of two to give Penn the three-point lead with 19 seconds to go. That set the stage for the final frantic seconds.
Pattman ended the game with 20 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Also for Dartmouth, Barnett finished with 14 points, nine boards and five blocked shots, while Fitzgerald had 12 points and four rebounds and Mosley finished with 11 points. Johnathan Ball, who had a double-double against Princeton Friday night, scored seven points and had eight boards as he battled foul trouble down the stretch.
Penn will play its last two home games of the 2006-07 season next weekend, hosting Yale Friday and Brown Saturday. Both games are slated to start at 7 p.m., and the Saturday contest will be televised by the YES Network.