Penn started out the first half a step slow in its search for its first win of the season while hosting Lafayette, trailing 45-30 at halftime – a hole the Quakers wouldn’t be able to climb out of even after cutting the Leopards’ lead to 62-60 halfway through the second half.
“We didn’t trust the system,” coach Jerome Allen said. “We didn’t know the objective of what we were trying to run and all our actions weren’t credible threats. Give Lafayette some credit but there was a direct function of our focus and attention to detail.”
The Quakers allowed Lafayette let loose from beyond the arc as the Leopards canned six of 10 attempts from deep in the first half.
But this loss still comes with hope for the Red and Blue. Offensive stalwart Tony Hicks finished the game with a double-double, scoring 14 points and dishing out a Quakers single-game record-tying 13 assists. Hicks also snatched four rebounds and four steals in 38 minutes of play.
“It’s just something that developed,” Hicks said, “I had a lot of drop-offs, they were kind of soft in the paint, my teammates were open and they finished.”
On the receiving end of Hicks’s career night was another career night by freshman forward Mike Auger. The rookie racked up 18 points on 7-for-10 shooting to lead the team while pulling down nine rebounds in just 14 minutes of play.
“He was phenomenal, he went after every offensive rebound.” Allen said, “He brought us alive in the second half with his constant relentlessness whether it be at the top of the press or it was going after every live ball. That’s the type of team we have to be. That has to be our identity, to leave it on the floor.”
Penn outrebounded its opponents for the second time this season, 34-26.
While tonight was a disappointing loss for the Quakers, the future looks bright as Auger, the sparkplug for a Penn offense that has been looking for a playmaking mate for Tony Hicks, looked phenomenal for the Red and Blue. Moving forward, look for the rookie to increase his role within the offense. If Auger can keep this performance up, Penn will be harder to stop.