Box Score (PDF)
PHILADELPHIA -The Penn men's basketball team looked like it was in control of Saturday night's contest with Robert Morris, holding a 13-point lead with about five minutes to play. The Colonials made a game of it, getting within four, before the Quakers were able to keep them at bay and gain a 66-60 win at The Palestra.
Penn improved to 3-1 on the season, its best start since 2005-06.
Zack Rosen had another standout game to lead Penn; he scored 19 points and had 10 assists in playing all 40 minutes. Tyler Bernardini was also a huge presence, with 19 points and a game-high eight rebounds, while Miles Cartwright finished with 12 points. Once again, though, it was the veteran play of Rob Belcore (7 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals) and Mike Howlett (7 points, 7 rebounds) that salted this game away.
Robert Morris (2-1) has been a power in the Northeast Conference the last few years, and with former Penn standout Andrew Toole serving as their head coach the Colonials arrived at The Palestra with some buzz.
RMU was every bit of its reputation to start the game, scoring the game's first 10 points as four different players scored.
Penn quickly dug itself out of the hole, scoring 11 of the game's next 13 points as Cartwright, Rosen and Bernardini all hit treys in the run. Robert Morris got back-to-back trifectas from Coron Williams to make it 18-11, but the Quakers scored nine of the next 11 to get it to 20-20. Russell Johnson hit a three, but then Rosen went with a bucket inside the arc and another outside the arc and Penn took its first lead at 25-23.
Robert Morris answered with seven straight points to go up 30-25, but Penn fought back. Cartwright hit a layup, and then with about a minute left in the half Rosen hit a jumper and Belcore followed with an immediate steal and layup off of RMU's inbounds to give the Quakers a 31-30 lead at the break.
The Quakers were the ones to start quickly in the second half, scoring the first 10 points to take a double-digit lead, and it was 44-32 at the first media timeout. By that point Rosen had already reached a double-double, with 13 points and 10 assists (without a turnover).
Penn's lead was still 51-39 out of the second media timeout, but its offense went stagnant for several minutes at that point. Fortunately, Robert Morris was unable to take advantage, scoring just four points in the same span and it was 51-43 with 7:52 left
The Quakers' lead was 61-50 coming out of the last media timeout, but the Colonials went on a seven-point run as Williams and then Russell Johnson hit consecutive threes.
It was getting dicey, but then Howlett saved the day. With a little more than a minute left, Bernardini missed a drive from the right baseline, but Howlett got the board and was fouled on the follow. He hit both free throws to make the score 63-57. Then he grabbed a rebound at the defensive end after a Johnson missed trey, and hit one of two to make it 64-57 inside a minute.
Lawrence Bridges got two of the points back with 28.4 seconds left, but Bernardini answered with a pair of free throws. All RMU could muster after that was a free throw from Lucky Jones.
Velton Jones had 16 points and seven assists to lead the Colonials, while Johnson and Williams had 13 points each and Lijah Thompson finished with 10.
Penn returns to action on Tuesday, hosting Wagner at 7 p.m., before participating in the Philly Hoop Group Classic's Thanksgiving weekend event at The Palestra next Friday and Saturday. The Quakers will face Big East power Pitt at 7 p.m. on Friday to cap a tripleheader, and on Saturday they meet James Madison at 7 to finish a doubleheader.
Penn-RMU Game Notes: Penn hit a season-high 10 three-point shots and shot its best percentage from beyond the arc this season (50 percent) ... Senior guard Zack Rosen had a double-double, with 19 points and 10 assists. It was Rosen's third double-double at Penn, and the first by a Quaker player this season ... Senior guard Tyler Bernardini scored a season-high 19 points and also led all players with eight rebounds. He has led the Quakers in rebounding in three of their four games ... Senior forward Mike Howlett scored seven points and had a season-high seven rebounds.
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