Cleveland - It almost looked like the “second-half” kids were back at it. No. 13 seed Penn found itself coming out of halftime down 20 points to No. 4 seed Boston College in the first round of the 2005 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship in Cleveland. With 13 minutes left in the game, sophomore Mark Zoller completed a three-point play to bring the Quakers within nine, 54-45, after the Red and Blue opened the second half on a 17-6 run, but it would not be enough in the end, as Penn fell, 85-65, to end the season at 20-9 overall and to end the career of Ivy League Player of the Year Tim Begley.
Heart and soul was not enough for the Quakers to overcome the Eagles’ 57 percent shooting from the field. Despite pushing Boston College into 19 turnovers, the Eagles went 8-for-12 from behind the arc and made 17 free throws to advance to the second round of the tournament. Begley finished the game with a game-high 19 points, six rebounds and four assists. He finished his senior season averaging 13.9 points per contest and has already been invited to attend the prestigious Portsmouth Invitational NBA Draft Camp in April.
Unfortunately, the third time was not the charm for Begley and his Quakers. Penn was making its third trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last four years. A rough and tumble first-half plagued Penn from the get-go. The Quakers scored the first bucket of the game when Zoller hit on the Quakers’ first possession, and hung around with the Eagles for the first nine minutes of the game before Boston College blew it open. Begley opened his final NCAA Tournament game with a three to tie the game at five, but it was Zoller who kept the Red and Blue close, hitting on a three-point play at 16:54 to climb back to two, 10-8. Doornekamp hit for two and the teams went into the first media timeout down four, 12-8. Zoller again went over Doornekamp for his seventh point of the game to close within three (13-10) before David Whitehurst hit the first bucket of his NCAA Tourney career to tie the game at 13 with 14:40 left. Boston College answered with a three and Begley used a back-door cut to close within two, 17-15. After one miss and one make for each team, the Eagles went on an 11-0, seven-minute run to take a 34-16 lead with 4:45 left in the half. Begley broke the scoring drought with a drive to the basket at 4:18 and the Quakers scored 10 points in the final three minutes of the half to head into the locker room down 20, 48-28. Begley led the Red and Blue with 10 first-half points and four rebounds, while the Quakers shot just 33 percent for the half. The Eagles lit it up from behind the arc, hitting 7-for-10 from three and shooting 62 percent from the field for the half.
Zoller left it all out on the court in the second half, diving for loose balls, patrolling the paint and going hard against some of the Big East’s biggest men underneath. He finished his final game of the season with 16 points, nine rebounds and three steals. In the backcourt, sophomore Ibrahim Jaaber was a force to be reckoned with in the second stanza and finished the game with 15 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals, despite playing with four fouls in the final 6:30 of the game. Penn was outrebounded, 41-34, in the game, but pulled down 16 offensive boards.