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NOTEBOOK: Penn Disrupts Men's Basketball's Momentum for Second Straight Year

By Catherine E. Coppinger, Crimson Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA—Heading into its key Ivy matchup Saturday night against Penn, the Harvard men’s basketball team was in possession of the largest winning streak at the Palestra of any Ivy team.

But for the first time in four years, the Quakers (8-20, 5-6 Ivy) emerged from their home contest against the Crimson (17-9, 9-3) on top, 75-72, narrowly avoiding being swept on the weekend at home and handing Harvard its second loss in as many days.

“Congratulate Penn on a terrific effort,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. “The opening of the game and their intensity and defensive pressure was terrific, and I’m sure [Quakers’ coach Jerome Allen] is really excited and proud of his kids.”

The last time the Crimson dropped both of its games at the Killer P’s was during the 2007-08 campaign—a season in which Harvard tallied just three wins in league play.

But though the contest closed out an especially tough weekend for the Crimson—Harvard lost to Princeton by a slim margin Friday night—it was not the first time in recent memory that Penn spoiled a Crimson streak. In the two teams’ contest at Lavietes Pavilion last season, Penn walked away with a one-point victory, ending what was then the second-longest home winning streak in the country (27 games).


After going 0 of 8 from deep against Princeton, the Crimson—a team that averaged a .401 three-point percentage entering the weekend—appeared to be destined for another ineffective night from beyond the arc.

“Our numbers have not been what we need them to be to win the last few games,” Amaker said.

In the first half of its contest against the Quakers, Harvard made just two of its 10 attempts from three, as co-captain Christian Webster knocked down a pair of shots with 15:18 and 9:44 remaining in the half, respectively.

But in the second frame, clutch three-pointers were largely responsible for keeping the Crimson in the game. Co-captain Laurent Rivard, who was kept off the scoreboard in the first despite attempting four shots from deep, made four three-pointers in the final 9:39, including a bomb from NBA range that narrowed the score to four with 1:38 left to play.

Webster added three more treys in the second half on the way to a 5-for-10 effort, as the co-captains combined for 30 points on the night.

Chambers also contributed a make from deep in the waning minutes of the contest, as the Crimson shot an impressive 72.7 percent from long range while also contributing a 13-for-24 (54.2 percent) effort from the field in the period.

But despite increased shooting prowess in the latter frame of Saturday evening’s contest, Webster’s final attempt from three—a rushed shot from the corner in the final seconds of play that would have sent the game into overtime—missed the basket entirely, and the Crimson ended up suffering its second defeat of the weekend.


While Harvard’s eldest players—Webster and Rivard—led a late offensive surge that nearly evened the contest, consistent play from two Penn freshman helped secure a win for the home team.

After scoring 23 in the Quakers’ loss to Dartmouth Friday night, rookie Tony Hicks did one better against the Crimson. Hicks tallied a game-high 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting, including the game’s final point—a free throw with two seconds left on the clock.

At the onset of the first half, Hicks carried the Quakers’ offense, contributing seven of his team’s first nine points, as Penn amassed a 9-3 lead it would maintain for the entirety of the game. The rookie had 16 points in that frame, including two straight layups to bolster his team’s lead to 14 with 3:02 to playing in the opening period.

Penn’s Darien Nelson-Henry also had an impressive night for the Quakers, posting 18 points and a game-best 11 rebounds. His presence in the paint—the rookie notched 16 points inside and two more from the charity stripe—helped push his team to a 34-14 advantage down low. The Quakers also bested Harvard in second-chance points by a key five-point margin.

“I take my hat off to them,” Allen said of the duo. “It is their first rodeo, and tonight they played like it mattered to them and they were seasoned veterans. We wish we had seniors to show them the way, but it is what it is. There is no better type of experience than being on the floor.”

For the second time this season, the Quakers held Harvard’s top rookie—freshman point guard Siyani Chambers—to just five points on the game. Chambers has averaged 12.9 points per game so far this year.

—Staff writer Catherine E. Coppinger can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @catcopp.

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