CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - When you contain Harvard star guard Jeremy Lin, your odds of taking down the Crimson multiplies exponentially.
With Penn freshman Rob Belcore keeping Lin on a short leash and limiting the junior to only 13 points, all the Quakers had to do was take care of business at the other end of the floor last night.
Led by 19 points from Jack Eggleston and 15 from Zack Rosen, who also sank four key free throws in the final 2 minutes, Penn downed Harvard, 66-60, at Lavietes Pavilion in the Quakers' Ivy League opener.
"I wanted to use my length a little," Belcore, who chipped in with 10 points, said about bottling up Lin. "I didn't want him to get too many jump shots off. And he really didn't take a lot of jump shots against me. I was counting on my help defense [by making] him go to the basket. I know I'm fast enough to stay with him, but maybe not fast enough to cut him off every time."
Penn coach Glen Miller has used Belcore numerous times this season against opposing top scorers, so he had no qualms about asking him to chase the 18.1-point-per-game Crimson standout.
"He's gotten all the toughest assignments on the perimeter, and he's done a pretty good job. I was confident that, with his size and with his [physicality], he could do a decent job and he did," Miller said after his team improved to 5-10 overall.
The Quakers led by four at halftime and didn't trail in the second half until the Crimson (9-8, 1-2 Ivy) surged ahead, 45-44, with 10 minutes, 52 seconds left. The teams stayed within three points of each other until Belcore's layup with 2:51 left put the Quakers ahead for good. With 1:07 to go, Eggleston's dunk extended Penn's lead to four and put Harvard into foul-away territory. Although the Quakers were able to hang on, they did so by the skin of their teeth - and all because of some sloppy play.
Rosen stepped to the line with the Quakers ahead, 62-60, and 23.5 seconds left. He missed the front end of a one-and-one situation. Eggleston grabbed the rebound and was granted a timeout, even though he was falling out of bounds. Out of the timeout, Tyler Bernardini was trapped along the sideline, but he also was able to call a timeout.
After the Quakers inbounded the ball with 17.2 seconds left, Harvard's Dan McGeary knocked it away from Belcore. The ball, however, deflected to Kevin Egee, who was tackled by Lin on his way to the hoop - a play that was ruled an intention foul.
Egee sank a pair of free throws, and then Eggleston did the same for the final margin.
"Thankfully, we had a few [timeouts] in the bank there to use," Miller said. "But our organization has to be a bit better in those situations. I was disappointed in the first half, too. We turned the ball over 14 times."
The Quakers, playing without key reserve Harrison Gaines (virus), trailed by as many as six points in the first half, mostly because of their sloppy ballhandling and Harvard's 48 percent shooting. But behind their own 50 percent shooting, the Quakers were able to hang around. They closed out the first half with a 10-0 run over the last 3:07 to grab a 31-27 lead. Bernardini scored the last two hoops to close out the streak.
Tonight, the Quakers travel to Dartmouth to take on the Big Green. Dartmouth (3-14, 1-2) lost to visiting Princeton last night, 59-54. *