Columbia Hands Penn a League Loss 73 – 69 at the Palestra
January 8, 2022 –
The University of Pennsylvania looked for two wins in their first old fashioned Ivy League weekend. They will play three of them this season. The Columbia Lions behind their front court play defeats the Quakers 73 – 69 and denies an Ivy Weekend sweep for the Red and Blue. Penn fell out of first place in the league.
“We have a lot of guys in the locker room who haven’t been through a back to back Ivy League Weekend,” said Penn Coach Steve Donahue. “In particular after you win and your home and the other team lost, unfortunately for the guys who haven’t been through it, you think it’s going to be a game that’s easy, and you let it slip why you were successful the prior night. I give Columbia all the credit. They outplayed us.”
“I told the team this is a tough one to swallow. But I’d rather it now than later. I feel strongly that we’ll learn from this. You can’t celebrate a win the night before at all.”
Columbia got solid play from their forwards. Ike Nweke scored a career-high 21 points. It was the rebounding of Nweke and fellow front court mate Patrick Harding that made the difference. Harding established a career-high in caroms taking down 21 total, 11 of those off the offensive glass. The Lions held a 16 – 5 edge in offensive rebounds to gain a 13 – 4 advantage in second chance points.
“Harding is the number one rebounder percentage-wise in our league,” Donahue said. “Nweke has been hurt, so they’re a different team now. Nweke is one of the better forwards and more experienced players in our league. Put those two together, they’re a handful.”
The Quakers never led in the game falling behind by as many as 11 points in the game. Still, Penn stayed on contention fighting back to tie the game at 48 on a jumper by guard Clark Slajchert, two of his 11 points with 13:09 to play. Columbia responded and took control with an13 – 2 run over the next three and a half minutes.
As the clock wound down, the Lions could have put the game away, but left the door open for the Quakers by missing the front end of a one-and-one three consecutive times. Slajchert scored with 31 seconds left to cut the deficit to 67 – 64. Liam Murphy converted two free throws to stretch the lead back to five-points. The teams traded free throws. Then with 3.8 ticks showing on the clock Max Martz drained a three-pointer. But Penn got no closer. The Red and Blue showed resilience in getting back, but according to Donahue the loss was in the preparation, not on the court.
“You have to understand how important the prep is,” said Donahue. “When you walk into a game knowing how difficult it’s going to be, and their competitiveness is at a high level, not we won last night, let’s hope it’s the same.”
Cameron Shockley-Okeke set his Lions career-high in scoring getting 19 points. In addition Harding set his collegiate-best handing out 4 assists.
Penn had two players scoring 14 points each, Martz and freshman forward George Smith.
Princeton is ahead now, Many teams are in the mix early in the league season in what will be a wide-open race for spots in the league tournament and the title.
“I think anybody can beat anybody. Whoever comes in ready to play every night, has the ability and maturity about you in terms of competitiveness, is going to lead this league,” Donahue reasoned.
Written By: Glenn Papazian