Penn falls to 2-12 with loss to Lafayette
Exactly a month had passed between Penn's last home game and Tuesday night's return to the Palestra.
Forty days had passed since the Quakers' last win.
A matchup with Lafayette - a team that had never beaten Penn in 22 previous meetings on 33d Street - seemed to be the perfect midwinter pick-me-up.
It proved to be just the opposite. The Leopards rode an early second-half surge and staved off a frantic Penn comeback to deal the Quakers an 85-83 loss.
Penn's offense found a good rhythm in the first half, registering 11 assists while scoring 40 points. But Lafayette used similarly crisp ball movement and strong shooting to take a 41-40 lead into intermission.
It was not surprising that each offense resembled the other. Lafayette coach Fran O'Hanlon was an assistant to Fran Dunphy (now at Temple) when Quakers coach Jerome Allen played for Penn in the 1990s. All three men now use the same motion offense with their teams.
"I'm always rooting for him," O'Hanlon said of Allen. "Jerome is someone that I have so much respect for and love dearly."
As has happened many times in recent games, Penn struggled early in the second half. Lafayette (7-10) outscored Penn by 12-5 in the first five minutes, and extended its lead to 15 points with 7 minutes, 47 seconds to play.
Remarkably, Penn (2-12) stormed back to forge an 81-81 tie with 3:14 remaining. The announced Palestra crowd of 2,805 was as lively as it could be.
The fans went home quiet, though, as Steve Rennard missed what would have been a game-winning three-pointer in the final seconds.
There was some consolation for Penn in career scoring nights for junior guard Dau Jok (18 points) and freshman center Darien Nelson-Henry (17). Tony Johnson led Lafayette with 25 points.
"We did not deserve to win the game," Allen said. "We've got to respect the game enough to not put ourselves in that situation."