PHILADELPHIA - It may be early in head coach Glen Miller's first year at the Penn helm, but the Palestra faithful cannot argue with this simple fact:
The Quakers are a really fun team to watch on offense.
Displaying a superb passing game to offset Monmouth's zone defense, Penn pulled away early in the second half and never let the Hawks get back in gaining an 80-66 victory Tuesday night.
The win was Penn's fourth in a row after two losses to open the season. The Quakers shot a crisp 50 percent from the field (34-of-68), and had assists on 26 of their 34 baskets.
Mark Zoller led the scoring parade once again. The senior forward scored a career-high 29 points, hitting nine of his first 10 shots in the game and finishing 12-of-16 from the field (including three treys). It was Zoller's fourth game with at least 20 points this season. He also hada game-high 11 rebounds to collect his third double-double of the campaign.
"When I get those early buckets,I feel more comfortable taking those shots," he said. "That helped a lot tonight."
"We’re trying to getMark a lot of looks," said Miller. "He’s showing a good combo of inside play and outside play. We’re moving the ball around the court a lot, and that’s helping. He’s a gamer."
Brian Grandieri had another one of his games where he did a little bit of everything -- the junior had a career-high 19 points, snared three rebounds, dished out three assists and had two steals.
And on a night when he scored just five points and hit just 1-of-7 shots, senior Ibrahim Jaaber dished out a career-high 10 assists and collected six steals. Classmate Steve Danley added 10 points and six boards, while Tommy McMahon had nine points and four assists.
"I thought tonight, with the chemistry of the game, Mark got hot early and was making a lot of shots," said Jaaber. "If that’s there, then you keep going with it."
"What I liked about Ibby’s game tonight is that he didn’t score much, but he had10 assists and just two turnovers," said Miller. "That’s getting it done. As a team, we had 26 assists in the game. That says a lot about our team. We’re getting it done.
"It was a good win for us. We’re starting to play better basketball," he continued. "I was very pleased with the way we attacked their match-up defensively."
The first half of Tuesday night's game was one of runs. Penn jumped up 4-0, Monmouth came back and went up 5-4 (its only lead of the game).The Quakersresponded with a 10-3 run to go up 14-8, the Hawks scored six in a row to tie things up.Penn used a 13-3 streak to extend a 27-17 advantage, Monmouth drew partway back at 31-26 before the teams went to the halftime break with Penn up 43-35.
At that point Zoller was 6-of-6 from the field for 15 points, while Grandieri had 10.
Monmouth got as close as three points early in the second half, when Marques Alston (23 points) hit a free throw. However, Zoller quickly hit a three-pointer, and after another Alston foul shot Zoller scored five more points in a row to push the Quakers' lead to 51-41. Monmouth got within single digits only once after that.