Penn channeled its inner champion Friday night after raising its 2018 Ivy League championship banner and went on to a 92-76 victory over Rice at the Palestra, the Quakers' first home game of the season.
"I thought we played really hard the whole game," said coach Steve Donahue. "A young team, I think what you saw as the game went on. Although we didn't execute real well at times, I thought we tried to make the right plays."
This was the first time Penn and Rice had met since 1997. They played twice that season with Rice taking the first game,70-63, and Penn taking the second, 78-73. This was their third meeting.
Penn had a big hole to fill in its starting line up after guard Ryan Betley announced he would be out the remainder of the season with a ruptured patella tendon in his right knee. He suffered the injury in the 72-71 win Tuesday against George Mason. Betley was the Quakers' leading scorer last season with 14.3 points per game.
Bryce Washington, the freshman from Southfield, Mich., got the nod to start Friday in place of Betley. Penn came out strong, racing to a 17-7 lead by the 13-minute, 30-second mark of the first half.
They went through a stretch of missed shots and turnovers and lost the lead with a little over a minute remaining in the half. They gained it back to end the half up 37-35.
The Quakers began the second half executing better, and kept at least a 10-point lead the rest of the way.
Antonio Woods went down with five minutes left in the game and went to the locker room with what looked to be a right knee injury. He returned to the bench with 1:33 remaining with an ice bag wrapped around the knee.
Penn's guard play put the Quakers over the top as Woods, Washington, and Devon Goodman combined for 33 points. The Owls backcourt of Josh Parrish and Robert Martin combined for 31 points.
The Quakers had a strong presence in the paint, outscoring the Owls, 48-40. The Quakers often ran their offense through their bigs, and A.J. Brodeur was a huge part of their efficiency around the rim, with 23 points and six rebounds.
"Just being a solid big man in the back. Just doing what my teammates expect me to do on defense and then being one of the primary scoring threats on offense," Brodeur said. "I know my teammates trust me enough to give me that freedom to kind of work down there."