What a difference a night makes. After fizzling away Friday night against Dartmouth, the Quakers were back with a vengeance, getting the underdog victory over Harvard, 75-72. In a league of upsets, a truly dominant team has yet to emerge, though the Crimson had come into the weekend looking like the cream of the crop of the Ivy League, before being swept by Princeton and Penn. In front of a crowded Palestra, despite it being spring break, the Quakers avenged a loss in Cambridge from earlier this season, and just like the second matchup against the Crimson last year, came away with the win.
THE GOOD: The freshmen
The rookie Quakers — Darien Nelson-Henry and Tony Hicks in particular — controlled the court tonight and led Penn to its win. Nelson-Henry brought in 18 points on the night on an 8-for-13 performance from the field, which was in addition to 11 rebounds — three of which were offensive — and three steals. Hicks, who led the Red and Blue in scoring, went 9-for-17 to rake in 24 points for the Quakers as well as three steals, four boards and a team-high five assists.
THE ALSO GOOD: The Quakers’ defensive effort
Though the Crimson went on a run in the second, Penn kept Harvard to 26.1 percent shooting in the first half. Though four Harvard players scored double-digits, including a 20-point performance — 10 of which came from the free throw line — from sophomore forward Wesley Saunders, the usual executers were kept to low shooting percentages. Sophomore center Kenyatta Smith was limited to 2-for-7 shooting, senior guard Christian Webster went 5-for-14 and freshman guard Siyani Chambers was kept to 1-for-5 in his 40 minutes of play.
THE BAD: Fouling
The most memorable of the fouls was junior forward Dau Jok’s unnecessary last-second foul as Chambers was bringing down the ball to finish off the first half. But this was just one of many. The Quakers quickly went over the limit in both frames. In the first half, Penn made it to the bonus with seven minutes and 25 seconds left, reaching 12 in the frame, while in the second it reached this point with nine minutes and 59 seconds left after jumping to six quick fouls beforehand and 13 total in the second half. It seemed as though there was constant whistling coming from the referees. The Crimson raked in 24 points on 33 opportunities at the charity stripe.
THE UGLY: Three-point coverage down the stretch
Though the Quakers maintained the lead throughout the game, a win started to look questionable as Harvard started making shot after shot from beyond the arc. The Crimson went 8-for-11 from three in the second half, after just going 2-for-10 in the previous stanza. The Crimson were notching almost every opportunity for a trey during this frame, with junior guard Laurent Rivard leading the way, going 4-for-4 from beyond the arc during the second half. In the final five minutes and 41 seconds, the Crimson brought in 15 points from three-point shooting, including notching two in the final 13 seconds. Harvard actually outscored Penn, 46-37, in the second half but the Quakers had built up a big enough cushion in the first to maintain the lead until the final buzzer.