When sophomore guard Matt Howard entered the Penn locker room at halftime of Friday night's game against Dartmouth, he disappeared momentarily.
"He was sick; he was throwing up at halftime with stuff all over the toilet," said Penn coach Jerome Allen. "But to his credit, he weathered the storm and gave us what we needed. When he's aggressive and he's active, we're a much better team."
Battling a stomach virus the last few days, Howard scored a career-high 18 points to lead Penn (6-10, 1-1 Ivy League) to a 58-51 victory over Dartmouth (8-9, 1-2).
"It was just a little stomach bug that had me vomiting for the last couple of days – but a win helps it out," Howard said.
Scoreless after the first half, Penn leading scorer Tony Hicks scored all 11 of his points after intermission. Greg Louis added 10 points, eight rebounds and a pair of blocks, and Antonio Woods finished with 11 points for the Quakers, who will try to win their third game in a row for just the second time this season when they host Harvard on Saturday at the Palestra.
Malik Gill led Dartmouth with 15 points off the bench.
Penn saw its 43-30 lead with 8 minutes, 20 seconds reduced to 54-51 on an Alex Mitola three-pointer with 1:35 remaining.
But the Quakers, who limited Dartmouth to 18-for-50 shooting (including 5 for 19 from behind the three-point line), held the Big Green scoreless the rest of the way. Conversely, the Quakers made crucial plays to lock up the win. Woods hit a big jumper with eight seconds left. Shortly thereafter, Woods sank a pair of free throws to put the Big Green away.
Penn led by 20-16 at the break despite making just 6 of 18 field goals. That lead might have been bigger if the Quakers had gotten any offense from leading scorers Hicks and Darien Nelson-Henry, both scoreless before intermission.
Part of the problem could also be attributed to careless play; Penn committed 12 of its 16 turnovers in the first half.
"I was proud of them," Allen said. "It wasn't pretty, but we're not pretty. It was a grind for 40 minutes and for the most part we just battled defensively."