POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. - On paper, the Penn men's basketball team should have had little trouble dispatching a Marist squad that finished last season with a dismal 1-29 record and had lost 21 straight nonconference games.
The Quakers controlled the opening minutes in Wednesday night's matchup, but the Red Foxes of the Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference rallied for a 66-57 victory.
Early on, Penn (5-5) found a soft spot in Marist's two-three zone and buried four consecutive three-pointers from the left wing - the first three by Zack Rosen and the last by Tyler Bernardini.
But when the Red Foxes (3-10) went man-to-man, the Quakers had trouble adjusting. A 16-8 Penn lead disintegrated over a 14-possession scoreless streak, and Marist trailed by just 27-25 at halftime.
R.J. Hall finished with 19 points to lead the hosts. Bernardini scored 18 points and Rosen 15 for the Quakers.
"After the first five minutes of the game, we thought the game was over," Penn coach Jerome Allen said. "We stopped trying to execute, stopped trying to make the extra pass, stopped being aggressive."
Out of the break, Marist started with a 6-0 run and extended its lead to 46-35 over the next eight minutes.
Bernardini kept the Quakers within striking distance with 12 second-half points, but Penn could not overcome an overall flat effort or an 18-point disparity in free throws.
Penn shot just 6 for 13 from the line, while Marist knocked down 24 of 27 foul shots.
"Coach Allen has been really getting on me to just start trying to be me," Bernardini said. "I was just trying to be more aggressive and help our team, and it just didn't happen."
Allen lamented the team's trouble in getting the ball inside, as Penn's frontcourt was held to a collective 18 points and 22 rebounds.
It won't get any easier for the Quakers, as they travel to take on No. 11 Kentucky on Monday.