It is meaningful for a team that is showing signs of growth that they win a conference game on home court, and sustain the momentum after winning its first Big Five game in four years. That is what the University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team did as they opened their Ivy League schedule by holding off a late Yale surge to win 66 – 58 at the Palestra. The win is another sign of growth that Coach Jerome Allen looks for in his team.
“We talk about making plays when we need to make plays, stops when we need to get stops, getting rebounds, making foul shots, all the things that good teams do,” said Allen. “Our job is to manage situations as best as we can. We weathered the storm, got stops when we needed to, and made shots. Our guys did a solid job of playing with effort and energy, and playing smart.”
In the second half the shots that fell for Penn early did not late. Yale chipped away at the lead and got to within 4 at 44 – 40 on a layup by Guard Porter Braswell with 8:41 left to play. Penn had to ‘gut this one out.’ That is what they did.
After trading baskets with Yale, at the 2:58 mark and Penn leading by 7, Freshman Guard Miles Cartwright nailed a 3 from the corner to put Penn ahead by double digits. It was a question of making foul shots and not giving Yale easy opportunities at the basket to close it out. Cartwright scored 9 of 11 points for Penn down the stretch for his team-high 18 points. 6 points in the stretch came at the foul line. As a team the Quakers closed out the game by making 9 of 10 free throws. As a team the Red and Blue made 22 of 25 from the line.
“We were playing with a sense of urgency from the beginning,” said Cartwright. ” We knew they would make a run at us, but we were able to close it out. We struggled at the foul line early in the season, but worked on it at practice. I just took my time and knocked them (free throws) down.”
The Quakers played one of their best halves of basketball in the opening stanza, leading at one point 24 – 6. The Red and Blue took a 35 – 24 lead into halftime. Penn shot 50% form the field (14 – 28), and was efficient on offense getting 9 assists on 14 baskets. Defensively, they limited Yale to 7 of 25 field goal attempts, and just 2 of 11 from the three-point line.
“Defensively, we made it difficult for them to enter the ball,” Allen said about his team’s first half play. “I was encouraged about how focused and locked in our guys were with the defensive effort. ”
Three other Penn players scored in double figures. Junior Guard Zack Rosen scored 16 points and handed out 5 assists. Senior Forward Jack Eggleston had 13 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Senior Guard Tyler Bernardini struggled with his shooting making 1 of 8, but was a perfect 8 for 8 from the free throw line to give him 10 points for the night. He added 7 rebounds.
Center Greg Mangano led Yale with a game-high 20 points and 8 rebounds. Braswell added 19 points. The Eli connected on just 4 of 20 shots from beyond the arc.
Penn improves to 7 – 8 on the season and is 1 – 0 in the Ivy League. Eggleston knows being unbeaten in the league is what really matters.
“It’s a new season,” Eggleston said. “We came in here 0 – 0, and five teams in the league had a zero (losses). It’s anybody’s league this year, and we have a chance to be competitive for the top spots. We are going to come in and play hard every night and see what happens.”
Turning Point of the Game
Yale was making a late run at Penn getting to within 4 twice, the last time with 7:36 to play at 46 – 42. Penn needed stops and baskets. Leading 52 – 45 The Red and Blue got a turnover. Later Cartwright made two free throws at the 3:39 mark to go up by 9 points. Yale would not go away as Mangano got inside for a layup. The next trip down the floor Cartwright nailed a 3 from the corner to give Penn a double-digit lead at 57 – 47 with 2:58 left to go.
Key Stat of the Game
Penn would need to put the game away at the foul line, and they did making 9 of their last 10 free throws over the last 1:38 of the game. Overall Penn made 22 of 25 free throws. Yale was 10 of 11 from the line.
Key Players in the Game
For Penn – Miles Cartwright with a team-high 18 points and 3 assists. Cartwright was 4 – 9 from the floor and was 8 of 9 from the foul line. Cartwright made both of his 3’s.
For Yale – Greg Mangano had a game-high 20 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. 10 of his points came in the last seven and a half minutes.
Point Where the Game Was Decided
Penn gave up a late turnover and consecutive baskets by Braswell as Yale cut the lead to 5 late in the game. Rosen made a free throw at the 31 second mark, then following a missed 3 pointer Bernardini sank two free throws for the final margin of victory.
Thoughts and Musings
Penn has won two in a row. They followed up their first Big Five win in a long time by getting an Ivy League win. The Quakers protected their home court. What has been impressive is the way the Red and Blue have closed out the games. They are making foul shots down the stretch to keep their leads. In this game Penn was 9 – 10 over the last-minute and a half. A team that makes foul shots at the end is tough to beat. Penn might be evolving into such a team.
Written By: Glenn Papazian