PHILADELPHIA, PA. 12/19/2015 – The University of Pennsylvania and the Bears of Ursinus went into halftime tied at 36. The Red and Blue started strong in the second half and earned 73 – 66 win at The Palestra. Penn Coach Steve Donahue played at Ursinus, and knew his alma mater would be a good opponent for the Quakers.
“This is a good win for us,” said Donahue. “We came out in the second half and figured things out. We had seven straight stops to start the second half. We’re a young team that needed to understand the challenge of playing a Division III team.”
The Division III Bears played a competitive game, but eventually the Quakers advantage in rebounding proved to be too big an obstacle to overcome. Penn had a 48 – 35 edge in rebounding, 18 – 8 on the offensive glass, which led to an 18 – 6 advantage in Second Chance Points. The Red and Blue had three players in double figures in rebounds. Center Darien Nelson-Henry led the way with 13 boards and had 5 blocked shots. Forward Matt Howard contributed 11 rebounds and scored a team-high 23 points. Forward Sam Jones rounded out the trio with 10 caroms and 19 points. The Quakers made 10 of 33 from distance.
“We did not shoot it well from three, and we need to figure out how to score when we are not shooting it well,” said Donahue. “We had to go after it on the offensive glass. Going after the ball has to be part of our identity going forward.”
Ursinus (1 – 5) was led by guard Matt Knowles who scored a game-high 26 points making 10 of 18 from the floor and 5 of 8 from beyond the arc. For the contest the Bears shot 43.3% and held Penn to a 38.8% field goal percentage. The Bears will remember that a D3 school came into an historic building and the experience that came with this opportunity.
“I’m a fairly big Big Five fan,” said Knowles. “I’ve been coming to the Palestra since the second grade. Knowing the history of this building, and to be able to play here is one that you circle on your calendar. I was excited about the opportunity to play here, and to come and play well against a good Division I team is definitely something I am going to remember.”
The Red and Blue (5 – 5) take the floor again at Drexel on Tuesday in the men’s basketball version of the Battle of 33rd Street before heading to Villanova on December 28. They will need to build upon lessons learned.
“We can be a good team in six weeks, and this helps us,” Donahue said. “We’re not good enough to take anyone for granted.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian