To say that Jerome Allen’s Penn Quakers had a rough go of it prior to the start of Ivy League play would be an understatement. The Quakers entered Saturday’s game against Princeton with a 2-10 record, with five of the defeats being decided by margins of six points or less. But there is talent on the Penn roster, with that moving the league coaches to pick the Quakers to finish second in the Ivy League’s preseason poll.
So despite their struggles, especially from a health standpoint, Saturday’s Ivy opener against rival Princeton represented a “new beginning” of sorts for the Quakers, and they were able to take advantage. Tony Hicks scored 18 points and Fran Dougherty and Darren Nelson-Henry added 17 apiece to lead Penn to the 77-74 victory at the Palestra, ending a seven-game losing streak in the process.
T.J. Bray led five Princeton players in double figures with 19 points, but their 6-for-21 shooting from beyond the arc and defensive rebounding (Penn rebounded nearly 39% of its missed shots) proved to be problematic for the team that was picked to finish third in the Ivy League preseason poll. With the defeat Princeton drops to 11-3 overall, but by no means should they be dismissed as a possible challenger to reigning champion Harvard.
Penn certainly has some things to clean up, most notably their 19 turnovers on the evening, but the full rotation Allen expected to have on the floor was finally available Saturday. Could their improved health make Penn the Ivy League threat they were projected to be back in October? That remains to be seen, but Saturday’s victory is certainly a step in that direction.