HANOVER, N.H. - With the Ivy League title race in its final weeks, seniors Ibby Jaaber and Stephen Danley would not let the Penn basketball team slip up.
As leading scorer Mark Zoller sat on the bench most of the game with foul trouble, Jaaber and Danley picked up the slack Saturday night for the Quakers, who edged a feisty Dartmouth squad, 80-78, at Edward Leede Arena.
Penn's win, combined with Yale's 82-64 loss to Columbia, put the Quakers 11/2 games ahead of the Bulldogs, with Yale coming to the Palestra on Friday.
The Big Green would not go down quietly to Penn in their final home game.
They got 20 points and seven rebounds from senior Leon Pattman, and 14 points and five monster blocks from Alex Barnett, but that wasn't enough to stop the Quakers from winning their 21st straight over Dartmouth.
Jaaber countered with 20 points (on 7-for-10 shooting), and added five rebounds and three steals, while Danley posted 12 points (on just six attempts) and six rebounds. Their real contributions came at the end of the game.
With Dartmouth down by three and 16 seconds remaining, Jaaber got a hand in Pattman's face to send his three-point attempt wide.
Then, off an offensive rebound, Jason Meyer missed a three from the corner. Danley muscled away the rebound and hit the two clutch free throws to win it.
"It's important to know we can win a game down the stretch, especially towards the end of the Ivy season," Jaaber said.
The win means even more for Penn with second-place Yale's 18-point loss at home. The Bulldogs (9-3 Ivy) must beat Penn at the Palestra to keep their chances alive.
"Definitely, guys are excited that Yale lost and we'll get a chance to clinch at home," Jaaber said.
Zoller, the Ivy League's leading scorer, played just 16 minutes but still managed 13 points. Mike Kach added 27 minutes of tough defense in his absence, and Tommy McMahon scored six points on 3-for-4 shooting in 16 minutes.
Penn coach Glen Miller knows his team wasn't perfect, but he'll take it.
"It's a huge win for us, and I give the guys a lot of credit," Miller said.