After a slow start to the game by both teams, the Penn offense took over in the second half led by Matt Howard's 18 points, a season and career high for the sophomore. Tony Hicks and Greg Louis chipped in with 11 and 10 points respectively as the Quakers held on for closely contested 58-51 win.
The Quakers were able to run some effective screens that led to three pointers, but couldn't penetrate down low. Many opportunities were given away on broken up pass attempts, some of which weren't even necessary passes.
The biggest run of the first was 5-0 Penn run that came halfway through when Sam Jones came off the bench and immediately hit a three pointer. Aside from that small burst the two teams traded blows all half. Matt Howard finished the half with a highlight reel moment blocking a Dartmouth layup with such force that the swatted ball actually caused a bleacher to collapse! (Not really, but it was a hell of a block)
After the first the two teams only had a combined 36 points. Penn leading 20-16.
The Quakers started the second half completely different than the first. Matt Howard had 8 points in the first five minutes as part of a 13-5 run that put them up by 12, their biggest lead of the game. Dartmouth was able to claw their way back though and the teams finished the game trading punches much like in the first.
After going 0-for-6 from three point range in the first, Dartmouth woke back up hitting 5 in the second. (Still posting a lackluster 26% from three) Penn dominated from three though going 6-for-10, half of those shot made by Howard.
Penn's bigs also stepped up tonight. Dartmouth liked to use screens and/or drive the lane almost every play but was rarely able to convert. The Quakers quickly filled the gaps left open after screen attempts from Dartmouth keeping them in game despite losing the turnover battle 16-8.
"It wasn't pretty," coach Jerome Allen said of the game, "but we're not pretty. It's a grind and we battled hard for 40 minutes."
The game ultimately came down to the wire, but Antonio Woods made a jumper to ice the game with just 8 seconds left.
Remember the Michael Jordan flu game? Of course you do. Well this was the Matt Howard flu game. Not only did he post 18 points, 5 boards, a steal and a Dwight Howardesque block, he was also battling the stomach flu. After the game coach Allen revealed that he had been throwing up at the half and this was before the majority of his points were scored. "Winning helps it a lot," Howard said about the stomach bug. Hope to see him get better for tomorrow's game.
Matt Howard was the catalyst for Penn tonight, but not to be forgotten is Greg Louis' effort. The big man pulled down 8 rebounds and was 1 missed shot away from having a perfect night shooting, finishing with 4/5 FG 2/2 FT.
Penn also dominated from the free throw line, going 12 of 16 compared to Dartmouth's 10 of 19. The Quakers were firing from all cylinders tonight, an effort they need to replicate going forth in this young Ivy League season.
Penn is now off to a 1-1 start in Ivy League play (6-10 overall) and welcomes a tough Harvard team to the Palestra tomorrow. Harvard narrowly edged Princeton 75-72 tonight and should provide more competition than Dartmouth tonight, whose leading scorer on the year Alex Mitola went 2-for-11 for 6 points. If the Quakers build upon this newfound momentum there's no reason they can't take down Harvard. We'll see how they fare at 7 pm tomorrow night.
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