Penn Quakers

Penn falls in heartbreaker to Princeton in Ivy League Tournament semifinals

uspresswire-penn-darnell-foreman.jpg
USA Today Images

Penn falls in heartbreaker to Princeton in Ivy League Tournament semifinals

BOX SCORE

For 39 minutes and 54 seconds, the University of Pennsylvania was on the verge of a monumental upset.

The first-ever Ivy League Tournament held in its home gym. The Palestra feeling like old times, rocking with every basket. And No. 1 seeded Princeton on the ropes with the Quakers merely needing a knockout blow to pave their way to the Sunday final.

But the upset was not to be. A putback by Princeton guard Myles Stephens tied the game with 5.3 seconds left and the Tigers finished off the Quakers in overtime, 72-64, in the Ivy League Tournament semifinal despite never leading in regulation (see Instant Replay)

"From what we experienced during the season to get to this point to culminate with a game like that, I'm proud of our guys," Penn coach Steve Donahue said. "Incredible effort, great venue to have it. Princeton played really well, deserved to win. But I can't say enough about our effort and our resilience, our grit, through it all, in particular, the game today."

Princeton defeated Penn relatively handily twice this season, particularly in a 64-49 win at the Palestra in February. The Tigers were 14-0 in conference during the regular season. In contrast, the Quakers were the last team to clinch a bid to the tournament, winning six of eight to end the season after an 0-6 Ivy start.

So when Penn raced out to a lead from the start, it was by every measure a surprise. Starting three freshmen, the Quakers charged past Princeton early in the first half. Freshman Ryan Betley made all five of his first-half shots, including two threes, and Penn brought a 33-30 lead into halftime.

The second half started auspiciously for the Red and Blue, who put together an 11-4 run and extended their lead to a game-high 10 points. While it was technically a home game for the Tigers on a neutral court, the Quakers used their real homecourt advantage and had the Palestra on its feet.

"It felt like Penn-Princeton at the Palestra and it was," Princeton coach Mitch Henderson said with a twinge of nostalgia.

The Tigers would not go lightly. Stephens and junior guard Amir Bell led a thrilling comeback to tie the game at 49. From there, it was back and forth like old times, a throwback to Penn-Princeton slugfests of old.

Tied at 57 in the final minute, Penn's lone senior, Matt Howard, hit a jumper to put Penn ahead. After two misses by the Tigers, he had a chance to seal the game with a one-and-one but missed the front end.

"Of course I'm down about missing the free throw," said Howard, who finished with 17 points. "All my shots felt good to me, honestly, so it's unfortunate it was a miss."

Bell drove down afterward and couldn't connect with the clock under 10 seconds. However, Stephens was there to clean up the rebound and tie the game, forcing overtime after a subsequent Penn miss.

"Play was for Amir to get to the rim," Stephens said of the play. "Our gameplan was to get to the rim in the second half and I knew the ball might come off [the rim] ... and it came right off into my hands and I was able to put it back in.

"Right place, right time I guess."

In overtime, Stephens hit the first shot for Princeton. The Tigers had acquired their first lead and the air left the building. Princeton scored the first nine points of OT and finished off Penn at the free throw line. 

Stephens led all scorers with 21 points and also grabbed 10 rebounds while Bell had 16 points of his own. 

While Princeton advances to the tournament final against Yale, Penn's season ends in heartbreaking defeat. Still, Penn took major steps forward just two years removed from finishing at the bottom of the Ivy League standings.

If there are positives to be taken from such a tantalizing defeat, it's that Penn's three freshmen -- A.J. Brodeur, Devon Goodman and Betley -- picked up valuable playing time and saw what it takes to win in a steadily improving conference. The three freshmen combined for 32 points in 117 minutes, including double-doubles from Betley (18 points) and Brodeur (10 points).

"No freshmen have ever gotten this kind of experience in this league," said Donahue, referring to the tournament. "This felt like an NCAA Tournament environment. It was great. Every aspect of it was first class and for them to be put on that stage, I thought Ryan, A.J. and Dev all did a terrific job. 

"I think we learned a lot this year," Betley said, "and I think we're going to be really fired up and really ready to work this offseason to get back to this spot and try to win the league."

Donahue compared the loss to Penn in 1998 (when he was an assistant). Then, a youthful Penn team challenged a nationally ranked Princeton team before winning the league the two seasons following. Just like 19 years ago, things are pointing up for Penn. 

But for now, at least for one day, the Palestra was Princeton's home floor to walk off of a victor.

Karekin Brooks' 4 TDs leads Penn by Lehigh in 60th meeting

penn-ray-priore-quakers.jpg

Karekin Brooks' 4 TDs leads Penn by Lehigh in 60th meeting

BOX SCORE

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Karekin Brooks rushed for 268 yards with three touchdowns on 29 carries and Pennsylvania outlasted Lehigh 65-47 on Saturday in the 60th meeting between the defending champions of the Patriot and Ivy leagues.

Brooks became the 12th Quaker to rush for 200-plus yards in a game and moved into second on Penn's single-game rushing record, behind Terrance Stokes' 272 yards against Princeton in 1993. Brooks also threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to David Ryslik early in the fourth quarter, which made it 56-35.

Penn (2-0) scored consecutive touchdowns 1-minute, 9 seconds apart late in the second quarter to establish a two-touchdown lead it maintained during a second half that saw the teams trade scores on virtually every possession.

Will Fischer-Colbrie finished 13 of 20 for 235 yards and three touchdowns, connecting with Christian Pearson on a 43-yard scoring strike, Logan Sharp from 26 yards and Nicholas Bokun late in the fourth from 21 yards out.

Lehigh (0-4) was led by Brad Mayes, who went 26 of 40 for 444 yards with four touchdowns, but also suffered two interceptions.

Penn at Lehigh: Quakers kick off non-conference schedule with tougher test

penn-lehigh-matchup.jpg
CSN

Penn at Lehigh: Quakers kick off non-conference schedule with tougher test

Penn (1-0, 0-0 Ivy) at Lehigh (0-3, 0-0 Patriot)
Goodman Stadium, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Saturday, 12:30 p.m.

After opening its season with a home win over Division II Ohio Dominican last week, Penn faces its first true test of the season as it hits the road to face a team better than its record would indicate.

Here’s a closer look at the matchup:

Scouting Penn
One of the biggest question marks coming into the season for the two-time defending Ivy League champion Quakers was at quarterback following the graduation of standout Alek Torgersen. And it’s still somewhat of a question mark heading into their second game as starter Will Fischer-Colbrie struggled a bit in the first half while Nick Robinson looked sharper in more limited playing time. Allowing 24 points to a D-II team was also not an ideal start for Louis Vecchio and Penn’s defense. But third-year coach Ray Priore must have been happy with the emergence of running backs Karekin Brooks (142 yards, two touchdowns), Abe Willows (73 yards) and Isaiah Malcome (49 yards) after senior starter Tre Solomon went down with a minor injury. And All-American wide receiver Justin Watson was his usual dominant self, catching eight balls for 134 yards and two TDs.

Scouting Lehigh
The Mountain Hawks were impressive in their opener, falling by only three points to nationally ranked Villanova, 38-35. They’ve been less impressive since then, losing to Monmouth, 46-27, and to Penn’s Ivy League rival Yale, 56-28. Through three games, they’re allowing an average of 46.7 points per game, which ranks 113th out of 123 FCS teams. But Lehigh, coached by former Penn offensive coordinator Andy Coen, is far more formidable on the other side of the ball thanks to junior quarterback Brad Mayes, who has recorded three straight 300-yard passing games, and Troy Pelletier and Luke Christiano, the Patriot League’s two top receivers so far this year.

History
This will be the 60th meeting between the long-standing Pennsylvania rivals with Penn leading the series, 44-15. But Lehigh has won the last two meetings and seven of the last nine dating back to 1990. And since 1975, the Quakers are just 1-8 in Bethlehem.

Storyline to watch
Watson, one of the best football players in Penn’s storied history, is always a player to watch. Even more exciting is the fact that another All-American wide receiver will be on the other sideline in Pelletier. Both Watson and Pelletier are on the Walter Payton Award watch list, and both players lit it up in last season’s Penn-Lehigh matchup with Pelletier going for 10 catches, 123 yards and a TD, and Watson going for eight catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns. Who will fare better in their last college matchup?

What’s at stake?
For the Quakers, non-conference games don’t mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things since Ivy League teams are ineligible for the FCS playoffs. But against a leaky defense, it will be important for the Quakers to continue to let their young offensive players at running back and quarterback grow while trying to avoid another injury like the one Solomon suffered last week.

Prediction
The Quakers have had a rough time of it in Bethlehem but look for them to hand Lehigh its second straight loss to an Ivy League team.

Penn 28, Lehigh 27