PHILADELPHIA, PA. 11/25/2015 – The University of Pennsylvania behind a career night by center Darien Nelson-Henry defeated the La Salle Explorers 80 – 64. It was the first win for Penn against La Salle in eight tries, but the story of this game was the play of Nelson-Henry. The senior set career marks in scoring with 31 points and rebounds pulling down 14 registering a second double-double of the season. For him it was the team performance that mattered especially after the loss to Washington.
“Coming into this game everyone wanted to make a point and show what we are capable of and play to the best of our ability,” said Nelson-Henry. “I think we did.”
The game started slowly for Penn who fell behind by ten points with just over four minutes remaining in the first half. Nelson-Henry started a 11 – 2 run scoring 8 of those points.
“The first half was the key,” said Penn Coach Steve Donahue. “When you don’t play well and you hang around and cut a ten point lead to three before half that was growth because that lead did not go to fifteen.”
In the second half Nelson-Henry continued by scoring 11 of the first 14 points for Penn. His traditional three-point play with 17:49 to play gave the Quakers a lead they would not relinquish.
“He’s huge, skilled, and comfortable and has great touch,” said La Salle Coach John Giannini about the problems that Nelson-Henry presented to the Explorers.
With just under 8 minutes on the clock the Red and Blue began a 20 – 9 run over the next five and a half minutes to take control of the game. With Nelson-Henry established inside, the Penn outside game began to take effect. Guard Sam Jones made two of his four three-point baskets and forward Matt Howard drained a three to cap the run.
Nelson-Henry finished the game making 14 of 19 attempts and was successful on 3 of 5 from the foul line. His efforts gave the Quakers a 48 – 28 edge in Points in the Paint and a 22 – 3 advantage in 2nd Chance Points. Jones, who finished with 18 points, was 6 of 8 from the floor. Howard scored 10 points.
Guards Cleon Roberts and Jordan Price paced the Explorers. Roberts scored a career-high tying 20 points. Price scored 18 points. Guard Johnnie Shuler scored 10 points and pulled down a team-best 8 rebounds. This was the first loss of the season for the Explorers against 3 wins.
“Sometimes you have to have a loss to learn,” said Giannini. “Fifty points in the second half is really poor defense, and the big guy (Nelson-Henry) had a lot to do with that. I think we will get better from this.”
Penn (4 – 1) is 1 – 0 in the Big Five. Donahue wants his seniors like Nelson-Henry to feel the joy of winning a city series game.
“This is his last go around and in winning we saw how excited he was after what he has experienced the last three years,” said Donahue. “We say we are a Big Five team that plays in the Ivy League. This validates that we can play against teams like La Salle.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian