Saturday, February 6, 2016

Game 25: Penn 55, Brown 54

A historically bleak season for Penn basketball took a dramatic turn for the brighter at the Pizzitola Center thanks to Dan Monckton's buzzer-beater. But the play didn't actually beat the buzzer.

Game 25: Penn 55, Brown 54

Penn coach Jerome Allen gives senior guard Zack Rosen instructions. (Clem Murray / Staff Photographer)
Penn coach Jerome Allen gives senior guard Zack Rosen instructions. (Clem Murray / Staff Photographer)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Would it be too clichéd to call this a shot of confidence?

Okay, yeah, it would be. But still, what has been a historically bleak season for Penn basketball took a dramatic turn for the brighter last night at the Pizzitola Center.

I think I did a pretty good job of describing the play that led up to Dan Monckton's buzzer-beating putback in my story for the Inquirer. Hopefully the play will end up on YouTube, and if it does I'll post the video on here so you can see it.

Should the shot have couted? From where I sat, it should not have. Was it some kind of karmic answer (there I go again) to Matt Mullery's controversial buzzer-beater at the end of the first half? Maybe. Would it be better to focus on the refereeing in both instances? Probably.

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And is the whole thing an indictment of the lack of television, and thus replay monitors, for the overwhelming majority of Ivy League basketball games? Absolutely - and I'm sure there are plenty of other conferences with the same problem.

It doesn't normally matter that much in the Ancient Eight, because the league flies way below the radar even by mid-major standards. But a situation like this would never happen in a Big East conference game, all 144 of which are televised somewhere. Nor would it have happened in the Atlantic 10, or perhaps even the Horizon League.

Ivy League executive director Robin Harris recently told Bloomberg that she's looking to get the conference a new  national television deal. It would have come in real handy last night, with Harvard and Cornell meeting in one of the most anticipated Ivy games in years.

But as the Pizzitola Center crowd saw, having television cameras in the gym doesn't just benefit fans watching at home. It helps the players, coaches and referees, too.

(To say that Jesse Agel was steamed at referee Kevin Quirk after the buzzer would be an understatement. His sprint across the court would have qualified him for the Penn Relays.)

I had intended to focus this post on how important it was for Penn to finally win a game, especially after the Quakers lost badly at Yale on Friday. So let's turn to that, because I wasn't sure how Jerome Allen would fix things in such a short period of time.

Right up until the end last night, it seemed like Penn was headed for another loss. They got within a point of Brown a few times in the final minutes, but the Bears answered every time. When Tucker Halpern hit two free throws to make it 54-49 with 33 seconds left, I thought the game was over.

But after a Zack Rosen layup, Penn's defense forced Halpern into a traveling violation with 16 seconds left, and all of a sudden Brown caught a serious case of the hiccups.

Peter Sullivan missed the front end of a one-and-one, and after Penn got the rebound, Zack Rosen was fouled and hit two free throws. Then Halpern had a chance to finish things, and he bricked one from the line too.

Rob Belcore got the rebound and gave the ball to Rosen, who brought it down the floor. Two times earlier in the game's final minute, Rosen had taken the ball to the rim himself for layups. This time, he passed the ball to Zack Gordon.

Gordon hoisted up a three that fell well short, but the ball landed in Monckton's hands. The ball went up, the backboard light went on, the buzzer sounded, and the ball came back down through the net.

The rest is consigned to history.

I tweeted from courtside during the game, as did Kyle Whelliston and the Penn student newspaper. Our collective accounting of the action is below. The box score is here, and the enhanced box score is here. You'll also find audio of postgame reactions from Monckton, Rosen and Allen at the bottom of the post.

Staff Writer
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About this blog
Soft Pretzel Logic is's college sports blog, with a primary focus on the University of Pennsylvania. You'll also see coverage of the Big 5, other major college sports events in the region, and the annual Penn Relays track and field meet.

Jonathan Tannenwald Staff Writer
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