Sunday, March 8, 2015

GAME RECAP: Penn 79, Cornell 72






Antonio Woods had 15 points and a career-high 11 assists, and Sam Jones sparked a big second-half run which propelled Pennsylvania to a 79-72 win over Cornell on Saturday night.
The Quakers won in the final days of coach Jerome Allen's tenure after he posted only one winning season in 5-plus seasons. Allen, a two-time Ivy League player of the year with the Quakers, had yet to duplicate that success on the bench.
He took over after Glen Miller was fired in 2009 and led the Quakers to his only winning season in 2011-12 with a 20-13 record. But the Quakers haven't won more than eight games in a season over the last three years.
Allen will be fired as the Quakers’ head coach at the end of the season, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed to Comcast SportsNet Saturday (see story). Penn has one game left.
"I'll say this, my attempt to be like Marshawn Lynch, I'm just here so I won't get fined," Allen said Saturday night. "If you can read between the lines, then you'll probably save your breath. Questions?"
Jones finished with 13 points, Darien Nelson-Henry scored 12 and Matt Howard 11 for Penn (9-18, 4-9 Ivy League). Tony Hicks and Darnell Foreman added 11 apiece.
Jones hit two 3-pointers, scoring eight, during a 20-2 run that gave the Quakers a 53-33 lead with 12 minutes to play.
Cornell (13-17, 5-9) went more than six minutes without a field goal during that stretch and trailed by double digits until the final seconds.
Penn, which came into the game averaging 60.1 points and had scored 50 and 54 points in its last two outings, scored 50 after halftime -- its highest scoring half this season.
Shonn Miller led Cornell with 23 points. Wil Bathurst added a career-high 20.
Allen said he was able to tune out the distractions of his shaky job status.
"It hasn't been difficult at all. We've treated this week like any other week," he said. "We just made it about business. It was good to see them come out tonight and duplicate that same level (of Friday's win)."
Penn athletics director Grace Calhoun is now set to make her first major hire and one of the candidates could include former Penn assistant and Cornell and Boston College head coach Steve Donahue.


PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- Senior Shonn Miller was a one-man wrecking crew in his final game in a Cornell uniform, but Penn used six players in double figures on a red-hot shooting night to top the Big Red 79-72 on Saturday evening at The Palestra. The Quakers improved to 9-18 (4-9 Ivy), while Cornell ended its season with a 13-17 mark (5-9 Ivy).

Despite the loss, Cornell still posted a school record 11-win improvement over last season, just two games shy of the Ivy League record of a 13-game increase.

Miller scored 23 points, grabbed eight rebounds, blocked two shots and stole two passes for the Big Red, while freshman Wil Bathurst posted career highs of 20 points and eight rebounds in just 21 minutes of action in extended playing time. Sparked by Bathurst, Cornell made a late run that cut a 20-point Penn lead to five in the final minute before time ran out on the Big Red. Miller surpassed the 500-point mark with his 23-point effort and became the first Big Red player to surpass 500 points and 250 rebounds in a single season.

Senior Galal Cancer had 10 points and classmate Devin Cherry notched six points and three assists in their final games in a Cornell uniform.

Antonio Woods had 15 points and 11 assists to lead six double figure scorers. The Quakers shot 54 percent from the floor in the win, just the second time this season an opponent hit better than half its shots from the floor this year. Sam Jones had 13 points, Darien Nelson-Henry had 12 points and six rebounds, Matt Howard posted 11 points and both Tony Hicks and Darnell Foreman had 10 apiece.

After trading runs in the first half, Penn took a slim 29-27 lead into the break. The Big Red tied the game almost immediately on a well-designed play that got a duck-in basket for Miller to knot the game at 29-29, but that triggered the game-changing run for the Quakers. Penn went on a 24-4 spurt over 7:08 that gave the home team a 20-point lead with 12 minutes to play. Still trailing by 16 (73-57 with 1:56 remaining, Cornell started chipping away. Even after Galal Cancer fouled out and head coach Bill Courtney removed classmates Devin Cherry and Shonn Miller at the same time for one final time with 57 ticks left, the Big Red wouldn't say die. Bathurst scored 10 points in the final two minutes and JoJo Fallas added five over that span to help Cornell back within 77-72 with six seconds left. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late for the Big Red.

Cornell turned the ball over just six times, but could force Penn into just nine of their own. Penn assisted on 20 of its 27 baskets on the night and hit 9-of-19 3-pointers to ru nawa with the season sweep of the Big Red.

"As 'Beast Mode' (NFL running back Marshawn Lynch) said, I'm just here not to get fined," Allen said of his firing after the game.
And then there was his Penn squad, which overpowered Cornell, 79-72, with the force of an elephant banging its head against the wall trying desperately to forget a bad stretch in its life. In the case of Penn basketball, a seven-game losing streak only snapped the night before.
As has been the recent trend, the Quakers (9-18, 4-9 Ivy) started their four standout freshmen – Mike Auger, Antonio Woods, Sam Jones and Darnell Foreman – along with junior guard Tony Hicks. Much like last night, the young squad brought a ton of energy from the start, potentially inspired by the circumstances surrounding their coach.
"We just made it about business [this week in practice]," Allen said. "It's good to see them come out tonight and kinda duplicate that same level of intensity defensively."
Auger in particular played like a man possessed and used some tenacious rebounding to help build an early lead for the Red and Blue. However, his aggressive play would quickly get his in foul trouble.
With Auger off the floor, the Big Red (13-17, 5-9) were able to make a run, cutting Penn’s lead to only two going into halftime.
Whatever Allen said in his penultimate halftime speech for the Red and Blue must have struck a nerve, though, because Penn quickly corrected some of its sloppier first-half tendencies.
Junior center Darien Nelson-Henry was an effective offensive option in the paint throughout the game, catching the ball on the low block and laying the ball in with ease on several occasions for his 12 points. Freshman sharp-shooter also stood out on the offensive end, showcasing his silky stroke en route to 13 points.
Woods was dominant all game, dropping 15 points and 11 assists with only two turnovers.
"Our chemistry is very high," Woods said. "I kinda know where [his teammates] are gonna be before they know where they're gonna be ... It's a lot of fun."
Penn’s offense maintained its pace throughout the second half, opening up a 20-point lead midway through the half and eventually putting the game away. The game wasn’t as close as the score might indicate.
The past two games have showcased some of the best basketball the Quakers have played all season and will certainly feel good for supporters of the program that witnessed so many struggles throughout the season.
However, much like an elephant is said not to be able to un-remember something it witnesses, the Quakers cannot undo their seven game losing streak. And their coach has suffered the consequences.
"We try to make it about what's the next challenge," Allen said about the Quakers' upcoming final game, a statement that also seems relevant to him personally at the moment.
Allen will coach his final game for the Red and Blue on Tuesday when Penn takes on Princeton at home.

PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania men’s basketball team played arguably its most complete game of the season on Saturday night, and the result was a 79-72 victory over Cornell that was not nearly as close as the score might indicate.
Penn (9-18, 4-9 Ivy League) earns its first weekend sweep on the final weekend of Ivy League play. The Quakers will look to finish the season with three wins in a row when they host Princeton at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday night, following the Penn-Princeton women’s game which tips off at 5 p.m. Both games will be televised live on the CBS Sports Network.
Penn held as much as a 20-point lead in the second half, and Cornell (13-17, 5-9) was still down 12 with 42 seconds left before a final rally set the seven-point margin.
Penn shot 54 percent from the field in the game, draining nine three-pointers, and outrebounded the Big Red 32-28. Perhaps most impressively, the Quakers -- which entered the game last in the Ivy League in assist/turnover ratio, by some margin -- dished off 20 assists (one shy of the team’s season high) and committed just 9 turnovers (one above the team’s season low).
The Red and Blue also showed a balanced attack on Saturday, as six different players hit a double-digit number in the scoring column. Antonio Woods was the ringleader; he collected his first collegiate double-double as he scored a team-high 15 points and dished out 11 assists (against just two turnovers). Sam Jones hit three more three-pointers en route to 13 points, while Darien Nelson-Henry scored 12 and Matt Howard added 11. Darnell Foreman and Tony Hicks scored 10 each.
(Hicks and Howard scored all of their points in the decisive second half, while Jones had 10 of his 13 after halftime.)
Penn used a 14-0 run late in the first half to turn a three-point deficit into an 11-point advantage (27-16). However, Cornell was able to get back within two points by halftime.
Penn would run the lead out again in the second half, and this time Cornell had no answer. The Quakers used an 11-point run early in the period, turning a two-point lead into a 13-point bulge. Shonn Miller (23 points, 8 rebounds) hit a pair of free throws for the Big Red, but Penn responded with nine in a row. In all, it was a 20-2 run that made the score 53-33 with 12 minutes to play. Until the game’s final minute, the closest Cornell got after that was 14 points.
Wil Bathurst added 20 points for Cornell, while Galal Cancer scored 10.

 See also coverage of the game from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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