HANOVER, N.H. – The records were in reverse but as the Ivy League front-runner, Penn understands that little is easy especially on the road. Facing a Dartmouth team that hadn’t won an Ivy League basketball game, Penn struggled before prevailing in the end, 64-61, over the Big Green at Leede Arena on Friday.
Penn is 17-6 overall and 7-0 in the Ivy League. It’s the first time the Quakers won their first seven Ivy League games since beginning 9-0 in 2005-2006.
Dartmouth fell to 4-16, 0-7.
Penn now has an Ivy showdown at second place Harvard (11-11, 6-1) in Saturday’s 4 p.m. game.
Just a year ago Penn started 0-6 in the Ivy League and eventually earned a berth as one of the four playoff teams. Plus, the Quakers have lost their three previous games at Leeds Arena and three in a row to Dartmouth, so Penn didn’t take the Big Green lightly.
“I told our team I thought this would be our most difficult game of the season for a lot of reasons,” Penn coach Steve Donahue said. “The whole mental start of 0-6 and how hungry those kids are and how they really played well for stretches, and obviously sitting with a team like Harvard who has been really good in this league for so long 24 hours later.”
Sophomore forward A.J. Brodeur led Penn with 20 points and 10 rebounds, Darnell Foreman added 15 and Ryan Betley scored 12.
“If I said this was a close game because we played poorly, it would be a disservice to them and all the work they put in,” Brodeur said. “They were with us, they are talented.”
The unsung hero was junior guard Jake Silpe, hit 3 of 4 three-pointers. Silpe entered the game with four three-point field goal all season.
Penn (17-6, 7-0) remained the only team unbeaten in Ivy play with a 64-61 win at Dartmouth (4-16, 0-7) Coach Steve Donahue and F AJ Brodeur talk about beating a team better than its record indicates. pic.twitter.com/s7FlMzILjq
— Marc Narducci (@sjnard) February 10, 2018
“I try to bring energy on the floor and on the bench too,” Silpe said.
Miles Wright, a 6-foot-5 senior, scored 16 to lead the Big Green.
Brodeur gave the Quakers a 57-55 lead for good on a jump hook with 42.9 seconds left.
Betley hit two free throws for a 61-56 advantage with 17.5 seconds left, but Dartmouth continued to battle.
With 5.2 seconds left, Foreman hit two free throws, extending the Penn lead to 64-61.
The Quakers then sealed the win when Max Rothschild stole a cross-court pass.
Penn held Dartmouth to 17 of 61 shooting from the field (27.9 percent).
“I think we figure out ways on the defensive end to be really consistent so it is really hard to score on us,” Donahue said. If we do enough on the offensive end we are a good team.”