NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Penn gave everything it had and then some to upset No. 1 seed Harvard in the Ivy League Tournament, but just like their two previous meetings this season, it wasn’t enough.
Led by star guard Bryce Aiken’s 20 points, the Crimson overcame a ferocious Penn defense on Saturday afternoon to win, 66-58, at Yale’s John J. Lee Amphitheater.
“We shot a better percentage from the field and from three, had less turnovers, but there were a couple of bounces of the ball during a stretch of the second half," Penn coach Steve Donahue said, and he was right. The edges were 44 percent to 42.3 from the field, 36.8 to 31.8 from three-point range, and 13 turnovers to Harvard’s 14.
Penn led, 14-4, seven minutes in, and Harvard didn’t go ahead until 3:56 remained in the half. The Crimson led, 36-34, at halftime.
It took an intense defensive effort by the Quakers to keep the game close. From late in the first half through early in the second, they held Harvard without a field goal for 7 1/2 minutes, but they led just 40-39 when the drought ended.
Midway through the half, Penn seemed to be getting in position to pull off the upset. Devon Goodman delivered a defensive rebound, a fastbreak layup, and a steal in succession. Then, AJ Brodeur — who had game highs of 25 points and 10 rebounds — drew a foul and sank two free throws to put the Quakers up, 48-43 with 10:22 left. But, the Crimson answered that with an 8-0 run.
With 5:55 to go, Aiken fired in a three over Antonio Woods to put Harvard up, 58-52. Penn kept fighting, but the closest the Quakers got was forcing a shot-clock violation down 60-56 with 3:33 to go. The Crimson held Penn to just one field goal the rest of the way.
This was a rematch of last year’s tournament final, which Penn won at the Palestra. Though the Crimson beat the Quakers, 78-65, in overtime at the Palestra, and 59-53 at Harvard this season, Aiken didn’t forget that tournament loss.
“We kind of felt like we owed them one,” Aiken said. “It hurt having that loss last year.”
Harvard will play Yale in Sunday’s tournament final (noon, ESPN2). The Bulldogs beat Princeton, 83-77, holding off a spirited upset bid in the second half.
Penn’s season is over — Donahue said the Quakers won’t go to the lesser postseason tournaments — and it’s their turn to not forget.