PHILADELPHIA - For agood partof Saturday night's game at The Palestra, the University of Pennsylvania men's basketball team was able to keep Dartmouth at bay but seemed unable to shake the pesky Big Green.
For example, the Quakers held the Big Green to just two points for the first nine minutes of the contest, building a 14-point lead in the process. However, Dartmouth was able to draw back to within striking range, within seven by halftime and then to just three (32-29) when Mike Lang hit a three-pointer and an ensuing free throw for a four-point play with 17:24 left in the game.
At that point, Penn put together a run that Dartmouth simply could not answer -- a run that was sparked by a usual suspect (Ibrahim Jaaber) who had an unusual night offensively (only eight points). Jaaber dropped a layup from the right baseline for his first points of the game, and then after Eric Osmundson drained a three-pointer he took an outlet off an Osmundson feed and slammed it home to put the Quakers up 10 and send the Palestra crowd into a frenzy.
Dartmouth would get two of those points back on a pair of occasions, but that was it as Penn's lead jumped into double digits for good with 12 minutes left en route to a 68-52 victory.
Penn (18-7, 10-1 Ivy) remains two games up on Princeton in the Ivy League race, with three games still to play. Unfortunately for the Quakers, all three are on the road -- at Yale next Friday, at Brown next Saturday, and then the regular-season finale at Princeton on Tuesday, March 7.
Dartmouth (5-20, 3-9 Ivy) got 14 points from Dan Biber and 11 from Lang, and used numbers to try to wear down a Penn team that is banged up after this weekend. Friedrich Ebede was forced to sit out tonight's game, and Steve Danley played 28 minutes of solid ball with a protective mask to cover a potential broken nose he suffered Friday night. However, for the second-straight night he was forced to come out when he got cut in the face by a stray elbow, and did not return.
Mark Zoller led Penn with his second double-double in as many nights -- the junior forward had a game-high 17 points and added 11 rebounds as well as three assists. Osmundson, who played his final game at The Palestra tonight (along with Ebede and Greg Kuchinski), had 14 points, while Danley and Brian Grandieri had 10 apiece.
Jaaber, meanwhile, made up for his offensive output by coming up with four steals. That gives him 87 for the season, which breaks his own Penn and Ivy League records for thefts in a season (he had 85 last year). Jaaber entered the week leading the nation with 3.52 steals per game and had six for the weekend.
As a team, Penn shot 51 percent from the field and shot a sizzling 14-of-16 from the foul line.
Both of next weekend's games at Yale and Brown are scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m.