There was a bit of a sense around Penn’s fan base coming into the weekend that Saturday’s trip to La Salle might be a trap. It was a Big 5 game in someone else’s gym, with that someone else aching for its first win of the season, and Villanova is coming to the Palestra on Tuesday.
Well, so much for that.
Four Penn players hit double figures in scoring, led by freshman Michael Wang’s 18 points, as the Quakers cruised to an 83-65 romp at a less-than-half-full Tom Gola Arena.
Penn (8-2, 1-0 Big 5) led throughout the first half, and while it was close for a while, the Quakers blew things open in the final minutes to take a 39-21 advantage into intermission. They played some pretty basketball, shooting 51.9% from the field and registering 11 assists on 14 made field goals. At the other end, La Salle (0-9, 0-2) hurt itself by committing 14 turnovers.
The Explorers cut down the turnovers in the second half, but didn’t cut down Penn’s lead. Indeed, it only grew larger -- as big as 57-29 at one point. The closest La Salle got in the second half was within 16 points. Penn finished the game having shot 57.4 percent from the field, with 25 assists on 31 made field goals.
“It’s very gratifying," Penn coach Steve Donahue said of the stats. “For the most part, we have guys who are willing passers and talented passers. And when we do it right, I think we’re a pretty good offensive team.”
AJ Brodeur had 17 points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block; Antonio Woods had 17 points and five assists; and Devon Goodman had 14 points four assists, and two steals.
David Beatty was La Salle’s top scorer with 14 points. Pookie Powell was out again due to the back injury that’s been bothering him for a while.
Explorers coach Ashley Howard said Powell is “hanging in there. We need him back ... we need his scoring firepower. He hasn’t been practicing. I think we’ll get him back this upcoming week and then we’ll start working him in."
Howard didn’t shy away from talking about how rough this season has been for his team, nor what needs to happen for his team to take the next steps.
“The mood in the locker room right now is really crappy,” he said. “What we have to do now is, we’ve got to find a way to take our opponent’s best punch and not get knocked down. ... Penn gave us their best hit and we were never able to recover and get back into the game.”