Wagner prevails over Penn, 71-65

The former high school coach took the first half, and the pupil reversed fortunes in the second.

In the end, it was the play off the bench by two South Jersey products that helped lead Wagner to Tuesday's 71-65 win over Penn at the Palestra.

Wagner senior guard Chris Martin of Winslow Township came off the bench to score 11 points before fouling out late in the second half, and junior forward Josh Thompson of St. Augustine scored six of his eight points in the second half and was key down the stretch.

Wagner, whose only loss is to defending NCAA champion Connecticut, is 4-1. Penn is 3-2, with the other loss in overtime to Temple.

Penn guard Zack Rosen played in high school at St. Benedict's Prep in New Jersey for Dan Hurley, now in his second year as Wagner's head coach.

The two have remained close, and Hurley knew the key to victory was to make Rosen work for his points. Rosen entered the game averaging 22.8 points and shooting 17 for 26 (.654) from beyond the arc.

After a difficult first half in which he scored six points but had four turnovers, Rosen took over in the final 20 minutes and finished the game with 23 points, but the Seahawks limited him to 1 for 4 from beyond the arc.

"We lost the game. This isn't about me vs. Coach Hurley; this is about Penn vs. Wagner," Rosen said. We had three crucial defensive breakdowns down the stretch and also bit ourselves in the foot to start the game."

Wagner led by as many as 11 in the first half and owned a 37-28 lead at intermission. The Seahawks alternated three defenders against Rosen in the first half, with Kenneth Ortiz earning the majority of the work.

Late in the first half, Rosen was so frustrated that he was called for an offensive foul after pushing off on Ortiz in frustration. At the Penn bench, Rosen received an earful from coach Jerome Allen.

Rosen took only four first-half shots as anytime he got past one defender, there usually was weakside help.

Hurley not only received his basketball acumen from his father, legendary St. Anthony prep coach Bob Hurley Sr., but the younger Hurley also learned from his father how to work the officials.

From the opening tip, Hurley was on the officials, making running commentary on virtually every call, especially those that went against the Seahawks.

Penn got back into the game by going on a 13-3 run to start the second half and taking a 41-40 lead.

It remained close throughout, but Wagner hit its final 10 free throws. Guard Latif Rivers led Wagner with 18 points, while Tyler Bernardini scored 15 for Penn.

Penn had 18 turnovers and 14 assists.

"Any time you have more turnovers than assists it isn't good," Allen said.

 


Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225, mnarducci@phillynews.com, or @sjnard on Twitter.