Mercifully, it's over.

Winless since Feb. 6, the Penn Quakers, starting four freshman and junior Tony Hicks, halted their seven-game losing streak Friday with a 54-46 victory over Columbia at the Palestra.

Penn never trailed in the game, mostly because they limited the Lions to one of the worst shooting halves seen on a collegiate basketball court in some time. The Lions scored just nine points in the first half, at one point going more than 13 minutes without a field goal.

"I thought tonight that the guys competed at a high level," Allen, looking relieved, said following the team's first win in a month. "Anytime you hold a Division 1 basketball team to nine points in the first half defensively you're doing something right.

"And even though Columbia missed a few in the first half I think the guys set the tone with their defense and it helped us get into a flow," Quakers coach Jerome Allen said.

The Lions shot just 3 for 20 from the field in the first half. During that span they were 1 for 12 from behind the three-point line. It resulted in the lowest-scoring half by any Penn opponent since Allen took over as head coach during the 2009-10 season.

The victory was payback for an earlier flogging by the Lions. On Feb. 7, Columbia beat the Quakers, 83-56, connecting on 15 of 26 three-pointers.

Penn, which led by 23-9 at halftime and by as many as 16 points in the second half, was paced by Tony Hicks' 19 points. The junior was the only non-freshman to start the game. Freshman Sam Jones connected on 4 of 6 from three-point range and finished with 14 points for Penn (8-18, 3-9 Ivy League).

"We just came out with a completely different focus and effort," Hicks said of the start. "We were just locked in and they couldn't get much off. I think it's really good for our confidence. It's just a shame that it happened so late in the season."

Maodo Lo led Columbia (13-14, 5-8 Ivy) with a game-high 21 points.

Penn will try to win again Saturday when it hosts Cornell. The season concludes for the Quakers on Tuesday when they close out the season at home against Princeton.

jmitchell@philly.com

@JmitchInquirer