PHILADELPHIA, Pa. 2/11/12 – When the University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team took the Palestra floor against the # 21 Harvard Crimson both teams knew it would be a hard-fought game. A battle as Penn was trying to get back into a first place tie in the Ivy League standings. Harvard was trying to take command of the race to the top. It would be a battle on the offensive end of the floor and on the defensive end. Penn battled hard, and held the Crimson to 56 points. Penn got 50 points. The Quakers did a lot but not enough, and fell two games behind Harvard for the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Usually holding a team to 56 points should be enough to win. But Penn had a tough shooting night. They would need more on offense, more on defense, more on the glass, but couldn’t get it.
“Should is a tough word in basketball and in sports,” said Penn Senior guard Zack Rosen. “What should happen doesn’t always happen. I should have made a lot of those shots, and I didn’t. We just didn’t get it done.”
“We always say the reason we win games is because we defend.” said Penn Coach Jerome Allen. “If we continue to defend we’ll give ourselves opportunities to win. The reality is they scored 56 points. I can count 15 plays if we had more focus, maybe they score 46 or 40 points. We have the ability, but we lost focus and didn’t come up with the plays when we needed to.”
Harvard took a 28 – 23 halftime lead by out-rebounding Penn by a 22 – 15 margin, 9 – 5 on the offensive glass. That resulted in Harvard having a 13 – 4 edge in second chance points. Penn had a tough shooting night, and committed 12 personal fouls in the half.
“The game would come down to who would impose their will,” said Allen. “In the first half they had nine offensive rebounds and 13 second chance points, and that can’t be the case. Every time we let up, they made us pay.”
In the second half with the score tied at 30, Harvard went on a 14 – 4 run to take a 44 – 34 lead with 7:23 to play. Penn began their comeback behind a Rosen three-pointer. The Quakers trailed 53 – 47, then a deep three by Rosen made it a one possession game with 23.7 seconds on the clock. But that was as close as Penn would get.
Rosen led Penn with 12 points and 6 assists. However, the Senior guard converted 6 of 21 field goal attempts and just 2 of 9 from distance. Many of those missed shots were of the in and out variety.
“I had looks I make in my sleep ten out of ten times,” lamented Rosen. “To not have it come up is very frustrating.”
“In the first half Zack had 5 or 6 shots that went in and out, that were in the rhythm of the offense,” said Allen. “We got what we wanted. We had opportunities to make plays, but didn’t do it.”
Fellow Senior Tyler Bernardini was in foul trouble most of the game and had just 2 free throws. Sophomore guard Miles Cartwright scored 12, but just 3 in the second half.
Harvard got 17 points from forward Kyle Casey and guard Corbin Miller. Forward Keith Wright took down 13 rebounds. Harvard made 18 of 24 free throws compared to 9 of 11 for Penn. That was a result of Penn committing 23 personal fouls to 12 for Harvard.
The Crimson improve to 21 – 2 overall, and have ended the first half of the Ivy season undefeated. The Quakers drop to 12 – 11 and are 4 – 2 in conference. Dartmouth visits the Palestra and will be the first test for Penn as they attempt to bounce back. The title hopes for the Red and Blue took a big hit in this game. Those hopes may be gone now, but for sure, there is no room for error. Penn will approach the next games like they have all season, looking to the next game as the most important.
“There is still a lot of basketball to be played,” Allen said. “We’re going to need some help (to win the Ivy League), but I think we control our won destiny. We have 8 games to play. We have to focus on what we are capable of doing.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian