PHILADELPHIA — Three teams in the history of the Ivy League have swept the Penn-Princeton road weekend. Following Friday night’s 66-58 victory at Princeton’s Jadwin Gym, the men’s basketball team took the short trip down I-295, hoping to become just the fourth team in the 49-year history of the Ancient Eight to accomplish that rarest of feats.
However, Penn senior Tim Begley spoiled the Red’s plans, scoring 16 second-half points to spark Penn to a rally over the last 25 minutes of the game that send the Red to a 64-50 defeat at The Palestra Saturday night.
Begley scored 24 points overall and Steve Danley added 15 for Penn, which improved to 14-7 (7-0 Ivy League) with its tenth straight victory. Senior Cody Toppert led the Red (10-11, 5-3 Ivy) with 10 points off, coming off the bench. Though the Red remains in sole possession of second place in the Ivy League after Harvard’s loss to Yale on Saturday, its hopes for a league title were greatly diminished with the loss to the frontrunning Quakers.
After shooting an ice-cold 8-for-32 from the field in the first half, the Quakers heated up quickly in the second, shooting 53.6 percent to turn a four-point halftime defect into the 14-point victory.
“[Begley] was carrying us for that stretch,” said Penn head coach Fran Dunphy. “It was a pleasure to watch and he has done some great things, but this was almost a hallmark in many ways just because how much we were struggling.”
While the Quakers found their stroke in the second half, Cornell almost completely collapsed. After going up by as many as 12 with 4:31 remaining in the first half, the Red began to lose some of the momentum it had carried over from the previous night.
“We never got in a rhythm offensively even in the first half the way we do when we play well,” said Cornell head coach Steve Donahue. “They were making us make plays off the dribble. I think for us, that goes for a while and we could do that but we never really got in a good rhythm so they got a ton of points in transition.”
After a timeout, Begley sparked Penn to life with a 3-pointer with 4:18 remaining. It was the first time Penn had scored in over five minutes. However, it would prove to be the beginning of an 11-3 Penn run to close out the half with the Red hanging onto a 26-22 lead.
“Begley to me is the best player in the league — he makes everyone better,” Donahue said. “He was obviously a big part of the game. I think they got some kickouts, they got some offensive rebounds, but we never got our defense really set. It’s a mental game a lot of times, especially in the secon half of the weekend. They threw so many so many daggers with Begley’s shots. Every time he was open, he knocked one down. I thought that was more of the key — the momentum shift.”
Penn remained hot going into the second half. After another Begley 3-pointer tied the game with 11:18 left for the first time since early in the first half, the Quakers promptly went on a 14-4 run to build a 10-point lead.
“In the second half, I thought we started screening a little better and creating some loose ball opportunities on the offensive glass like a tip out herren or there,” Begley said. “The next thing you know, somebody makes a big jump shot and you got a little momentum whereas in the first half, we didn’t get anything truly going.”
Another big difference was the Red’s fundamentals. Cornell turned the ball over an uncharacteristically high 20 times in the game to go with just six assists.
“I said to my assistants that we needed 20 turnovers total for the weekend,” Donahue said. “We had 10 last night [against Princeton] and I thought this game, if we could hold ourselves around 10 to 12, I think we’re a pretty good offensive team. We just didn’t do a good job with the ball.”
As usual, the Red spread the ball around a lot, as nine different players scored. However, the Quakers dominated the game in transition, compiling 10 steals and seven blocks, while committing 11 turnovers.
“We didn’t have our defense set and they made very good plays in finding each other like typical Penn teams do,” Donahue said.
Donahue has yet to beat Penn, where he was an assistant coach for 10 years before joining the Red in 2000-01. Cornell hasn’t won at The Palestra since the 1988-89 season.
The Red will continue its road trip this weekend, when it visits Dartmouth and Harvard.
Archived article by Owen Bochner
Sun Sports Editor