PRINCETON, N.J. — After a bad start to Ivy League play in last Saturday’s home loss to Princeton, Penn’s season got even worse Friday night with a 63-58 loss to the Tigers at Jadwin Gym.
Penn (7-6, 0-2 Ivy League) jumped out to an early 8-0 lead, and when AJ Brodeur and Ryan Betley made the Quakers’ first three-point attempts of the game, it appeared that last Saturday’s shooting woes were cured. But things went off the rails from there, including a nearly five-minute scoring drought that started midway through the first half.
At halftime, Princeton (6-8, 2-0) led, 36-28, thanks in no small part to Ryan Schwieger shooting 4-of-6 from three-point range.
The second half started out little better. Princeton started it on a 10-2 run, and led by 53-38 at the midpoint. Penn clawed its way back to within 61-58 with 39 seconds to go, but Jose Morales’ driving layup with 9 seconds left — and 1 second on the shot clock — sealed the win.
Until the late rally, Penn’s defense was once again poor. Princeton shot 46.7% from the field in the first half, and finished the game shooting 42.1%.
Schwieger was the Tigers’ top scorer with 16 points. Tigers big man Richmond Aririguzoh grabbed 16 rebounds, including six at the offensive end.
AJ Brodeur led Penn with 22 points and 13 rebounds.
“We deserve where we’re at. … But we have a chance with the [conference] tournament. I think failure’s all part of this. We’ve done it here and we’ve figured it out, and we’re going to figure it out this year as well.” — Penn coach Steve Donahue on starting conference play 0-2 for the fourth time in his five-year tenure. The Quakers have made the Ivy League tournament in each of the past three seasons.
“Good players make good coaches, and we’ve had a lot of really good players … It’s not fun to prepare for them. Hopefully it’s hard to prepare for us. Brodeur, holy cow, he’s a nightmare to deal with.” — Princeton coach Mitch Henderson.
Penn is lucky that the bottom of the Ivy League is bad enough that they still should be able to make the Ivy tournament. An 0-2 start is no way to go about things for a team that was picked in the preseason to finish second in the standings, then beat Alabama, Providence, and Central Florida.
The Quakers clearly have the talent to be better than this. Perhaps the non-conference break to play St. Joseph’s on Jan. 18 and Temple on Jan. 25, both at the Palestra, will straighten things out. But the poor defense over the last two games is a huge concern.