NEW HAVEN, Conn. - What are the ingredients that go into a loss like the one the Penn men’s basketball team suffered Saturday night at Yale, 77-68?
The Quakers shot better than 47 percent from the field, and knocked down 10 more three-pointers after draining 12 last night at Brown. However, Penn was undone by poor foul shooting: 8-of-21, an atrocious 38.1 percent. Of those 13 misses, two came on the front end of a 1-and-1.
Penn got 14 points, six rebounds and six assists from Ibrahim Jaaber, and sophomore Tommy McMahon had his second-straight double-figure scoring game with 10 points as he got the start. However, Mark Zoller the Quakers’ leading scorer at more than 18 points per game was held to just eight, and five of those came in the final minutes when the game was essentially over. Brian Grandieri, Penn’s third-leading scorer, had just seven points. The duo shot a combined 5-of-20 from the field.
On the other side, Yale played with a dash of confidence that was apparent from the opening tap and never waned. Gaining strength from a boisterous crowd, the Bulldogs broke the game open with a 9-0 run late in the first half to get ahead of the Quakers, and they did not flinch whenever Penn made a run at them in the second half.
As a result, Yale stands alone at the top of the Ivy League standings at 5-1, although you could say they are tied with the Quakers (3-1 Ivy). Cornell’s loss at Harvard left Penn and Yale as the only teams in the league with just one loss.
Casey Hughes arguably the most athletic player in the Ivies certainly played with swagger; the senior came up with 15 points and 13 rebounds, as well as four steals. Junior guard Eric Flato, whose numbers have been way up in Ivy games, got hot right around the time Yale pulled away; he finished with a game-high 21 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Caleb Holmes was averaging fewer than nine points per game, but he had 17; Matt Kyle was averaging 5.7 ppg and his career high was 10; he finished with 12 Saturday, to go with four rebounds.
It all added up to disaster for the Quakers not surprising, given their lack of success in this building in recent years. Yale has now defeated Penn at the Lee Amphitheater four of the last six years in New Haven, and Penn’s four-year seniors Jaaber, Zoller and Steve Danley will depart Penn with just one win here, last year’s 57-55 nailbiter.
Penn was in control of this game for just a short while, although it came so early it may have been fool’s gold. Down, 11-6, the Quakers reeled off 12 points in a row during a span of 2:48 as Zoller, Jaaber and Kevin Egee nailed treys and Michael Kach got three points the conventional way.
Yale was unfazed. Hughes and Kyle conspired to get the Bulldogs back to a tie game, and then Flato knocked down his first points of the night with 2:54 left. That gave Yale the lead back, 31-29, and though Egee would tie it immediately afterward the Quakers would never lead again.
Instead, Ross Morin got a jumper, then Flato sandwiched a pair of three-pointers around a foul shot for a personal seven-point run that gave Yale a 40-31 advantage. Jaaber was able to get two of those back before halftime, but the Quakers went into the break down, 40-33.
Yale’s lead crested at 15 (60-45) with 10 minutes to go in the second half, and was still 10 (67-57) with three minutes to play before Penn gave the crowd a few anxious moments. Layups by Grandieri and Danley on consecutive possessions made the score 67-61, before Caleb Holmes hit a pair of free throws with 1:53 to play. Nearly a minute went by before Penn got a trey from Zoller, cutting the lead to five (69-64), but Penn could not get closer as Flato and Holmes hit their free throws in the final minute.
Penn will be at home for its next five Ivy League games, playing them in an eight-day span. The first two come next weekend, when the Quakers host Dartmouth Friday night and Harvard Saturday night. Both games are slated to tip off at 7 p.m.