Penn defeats Providence for its second high-major win of the year

Four days after suffering an inexplicable 21-point defeat at then-KenPom No. 241 Lafayette, Penn picked up the Ivy League’s biggest win of the young season with a 81-75 victory at then-KenPom No. 28 Providence on Saturday.

Just three weeks into the year, the Quakers now have marquee wins over team from the Big East and SEC, with the other coming at Alabama on the season’s opening night.

Penn ran its offense close to perfection in the first half, using solid ball movement to find open looks, inside and outside, on its way to a 47-30 halftime lead.  Over the first 20 minutes, AJ Brodeur led the way, making seven of 10 shots to lead all scorers with 15 points, while Ryan Betley nailed four of six three-pointers on his way to 14.

Defensively, the Quakers held the Friars to 37% shooting from the field and won the rebounding battle, 20-15.  The Red & Blue also held Providence’s leading scorer Alpha Diallo to four points and forced him into three fouls.

The second half would be a different story.

The Friars came out of the locker room with more energy and pressure, forcing Penn into sloppy play, rushed shots and cheap fouls.  By the 12-minute mark, the Friars cut a 19-point early second half lead to 10 and forced Brodeur to to the bench with his fourth personal foul.

With the game 58-52 at the eight-minute mark and the partisan Dunkin’ Donuts Center crowd smelling blood, Penn coach Steve Donahue realized the need to get the big man back on the court.  The Quakers quickly settled down, finding Jordan Dingle and Betley for open back-to-back three pointers, to stretch the advantage to 12 with just under 6:30 left.

Dingle would go on to hit two more three-pointers over the next two minutes to extend Penn’s lead to 13.

Even with a 77-64 lead with a minute remaining, Penn’s day was not over.

Emmitt Holt and Dialow hit layups between Dingle’s 1-for-2 effort from the charity stripe to make it a 10-point game.  Betley and Devon Goodman would make only one of four free throw attempts, while Providence’s David Duke hit a layup and Holt nailed a three pointer to make it a 79-73 contest with 19 seconds left in regulation.

Two more missed free throws from Betley left the ball in the Friars’ hands with 13 ticks left on the clock.  Luwane Pipkins threw an ill-advised cross-court pass, which was picked up by Goodman and given over to Bradley for a game-ending layup.

The Quakers shot 46% in the second half, with most of the success coming from Dingle.  The rookie from Long Island had 16 points over the last 20 minutes (19 total), making 60% of his shots including 75% (3-for-4) from long range.’  Dingle, who put in the game winning shot on his way to a Penn rookie debut record 25 points against the Crimson Tide, continues to impress with his late-game heroics.

Betley led all scorers with 22 points and five three-pointers, both season highs for the former All-Ivy senior who missed all of 2018-19 with a ruptured patellar tendon. Brodeur finished with a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds, despite dealing with foul troubles and a deeper Big East frontcourt.

On the afternoon, the Quakers shot 54% from two and 50% (7-for-14) from three. Unfortunately, they only made 50 percent (10-for-20) of their free throws.

Penn’s smaller four-guard lineup eventually lost the battle of the boards by 15%, allowing Providence an 85% defensive rebounding rate.  Fortunately for the Red & Blue, the Friars, which managed to hit 39% of their three-pointers, only shot 42% from two and 50% (10-for-20) from the charity stripe.

With Brodeur, Betley, Dingle and Goodman averaging between 11.6 and 18 points a game, the Quakers don’t have a problem putting up points from anywhere on the floor.  As the season progresses, however, it will need to control teams’ three-point production (8.4 made threes a game at 35.6%) and develop some frontcourt help for Brodeur.

Penn, now ranked No. 110 by KenPom, will look to build upon Saturday’s result as it heads into an opening round Wooden Legacy Tournament game against No. 126 UCF on Thanksgiving night and a second-round match on Friday against either No. 13 Arizona or No. 127 Pepperdine.

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