PHILADELPHIA - Sharp shooting defined Penn's 73-54 win over Columbia in men's basketball action Friday night at The Palestra.
Consider Brian Grandieri, who led all scorers on the night with 17 points. He did that by missing just one shot -- and that came at the foul line. From the field, he was a perfect 8 for 8 with a dazzling array of shots on the block and rainbows from the baselines.
The consider Grandieri's teammates, especially in the second half. The Quakers shot 14-of-19 from the field overall in the final stanza, including a 2-of-7 performance from three-point land. If you do the math, it's pretty simple -- Penn went 12-of-12 inside the arc en route to the victory.
Penn (16-8, 7-1 Ivy) remained in the first place in the Ivies, a half-game ahead of both tomorrow night's opponent -- Cornell -- and Yale. The Big Redwon atPrinceton, 57-50, while the Bulldogs came back in the final minutes to down Dartmouth in New Haven, 69-64. In taking the loss, Columbia fell to 13-10 overall, and 4-5 in the Ivies.
Despite Penn's offensive exploits, this game never truly felt comfortable until the final portion. The Quakers led by nine points at the break, but could not pull away for the first 10 minutes of the second half. It was not until they put together a 9-2 run over a two-minute span that their lead expanded to 15 (57-42) with eight minutes left, and the Lions never got closer than 11 points after that.
Overall, four players scored in double figures for Penn. In addition to Grandieri, Ibrahim Jaaber had another outstanding game with 15 points, seven rebounds, three blocked shots and three steals. Mark Zoller nearly got to his average, with 14 points, and also contributed six rebounds and five steals. Finally, Steve Danley completed the senior trio's output with 11 points, six boards and two blocked shots.
Defensively, Penn was once again stingy -- Columbia shot just 38 percent from the field (19 of 50), and the Lions' inside duo of John Baumann and Ben Nwachukwu was held in check as Nwachukwu scored just five points and Baumann was shut out altogether. Niko Scott led the Lions with 14 points, all in the second half, while Mack Montgomery had 11 (however, only four after he scored Columbia's first seven points of the game) and Joseph Bova added 10 off the bench.
Penn led 8-5 after three minutes, but Columbia came back with 12 of the next 15 points to take a 17-11 advantage. The teams traded buckets, and then the Quakers went on a nine-point run that covered almost five minutes to go back on top, 23-19. They would not trail again.
Columbia went nearly seven minutes without a point during Penn's run, before Patrick Foley broke the skid with a layup. The Quakers responded with eight more points in a row, lifted by a dunk and a three-point from Jaaber. That made the score 31-21 with 1:56 to play; at that point, Columbia had hit just the one field goal over a span of 11:30. At the break, Penn led 33-24.
Penn's lead hovered between eight and 12 points through the firstnine minutes of the second half, and it was 48-40 with 10:46 to play. However, Zoller hit a jumper, then connected on a pair of free throws to push the lead to 12. After Columbia's Brett Loscalzo knocked down two freebies, Michael Kach made up for a missed three by knocking down a second attempt after Danley's offensive rebound, and then Danley scored himself to give Penn the 57-42 advantage.
Scott scored four straight points to bring Columbia back within 57-46, but Jaaber hit another trey and then Danley hit two foul shots to give Penn a 62-46 lead with six minutes to play. That pretty much sealed the deal, as the Quakers had an answer for everything the Lions threw at them.
Penn and Cornell will tip off Saturday night at 7 p.m. in The Palestra, concluding a five-game-in-eight-days homestand for the Quakers. The game will be televised live on YES Network, a cable superstation located out of the New York City area.