PROVIDENCE, R.I. - A meeting of two Ivy League teams winless in conference play and coming off blowout losses might not have seemed like much of an attraction at tip-off. It turned out that Penn and Brown put on quite an entertaining show.
In the end, the Bears prevailed 89-83, primarily because of a player whom not even the conference's good teams have been able to keep down.
Cedric Kuakumensah was a force at both ends of the floor, scoring a game-high 26 points and adding five blocks to his Ivy League record career total.
"We did not play a great defensive game, but I thought we played really hard," Penn coach Steve Donahue said. "When it came to crunch time, [the Bears] knew what they had to do."
A first half in which both teams shot over 50 percent from three-point range finished with Brown holding a 46-45 lead.
Penn (6-11, 0-3 Ivy) seemed to be taking control early in the second half, establishing a 56-50 lead three minutes in. That momentum didn't last, though, as the Bears (6-12, 1-3) scored the next 12 points.
The Quakers clawed their way back, and took an 81-80 lead with 3 minutes, 10 seconds left. But Brown went ahead again on the ensuing possession, and did not trail the rest of the night.
Matt Howard was Penn's top scorer with 20 points. He could have had more had he not missed eight of his 16 free throws.
The highlight performance came from freshman forward Max Rothschild. With veteran big men Darien Nelson-Henry and Mike Auger out with injuries, Rothschild posted career highs of 18 points and six rebounds.
"Max really came of age, going against the all-time leading Ivy League shot blocker and taking it right to him," Donahue said.
Rothschild was more focused on the result than his performance.
"It feels nice, but we lost, so it's not the best feeling," he said. "It's good for my confidence, but the 'L' still remains."
Kuakumensah's big night was backed up by 23 points and 10 assists from guard Tavon Blackmon, and 19 points from Steven Spieth, brother of PGA Tour star Jordan Spieth.