Penn senior forward AJ Brodeur set three program records in his final game at the Palestra as the Quakers easily dispatched Columbia, 85-65, on a historic night at the Palestra to earn the No. 4 seed in the Ivy League Tournament.
The Red & Blue (16-11, 8-6 Ivy) nabbed their fourth straight Ivy League Tournament berth, knocking Brown (also 8-6 in Ivy play) on the strength of a Brodeur triple-double: 21 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Penn split the season series with Brown but held the second tiebreaker, a better record against league top seed Yale.
Brodeur’s triple-double was the first in program history, a feat that followed two more records from the Northborough, Mass. native.
With the game well in hand in the second half, the focus became whether Brodeur would pass Ernie Beck ’53 to become the all-time leading scorer.
He did just that at the 9:46 mark, scoring inside to get to 1,827 career points and break the longest-standing program scoring record in Division I, set by Ernie Beck in 1953. Beck was on hand and praised Brodeur during the ESPN+ game broadcast.
— Dave Zeitlin (@DaveZeitlin) March 8, 2020
Brodeur also recorded four blocks, enough to give him the all-time program blocks record previously held by Geoff Owens ’01.
Things started out poorly for the home team, as Penn missed seven of its first eight shots and the Lions took a 9-5 lead after the first 5:45. Randy Brumant capped a 8-3 run for Columbia (6-24, 1-13), but missed an and-one free throw, as the visitors extended its lead to 18-10 at the 11:41 media timeout.
It’s not known what Steve Donahue said to his team during the break, but Penn came out a different team.
The Red & Blue made four of their next five baskets, with Brodeur hitting a pair of hook shots and threes from Betley and Max Martz, to close the gap to 22-21 at the under-eight timeout.
Goodman’s driving layup over Mike Smith at the 7:10 mark made it 23-22, and the Quakers were just getting started.
Betley and Jordan Dingle each made a pair of three-pointers to help Penn extend its lead to 12, before a Smith layup made it a 40-30 game at halftime.
Despite the sloppy start for Penn, the Red & Blue shot 50% from the field, including 7-for-16 (44%) from beyond the arc. The Lions, meanwhile, were held to 38% shooting and a paltry 1-for-7 effort from three.
The Quakers, only 20 minutes away from a postseason berth, came out of the locker room on fire.
By the under-12 timeout, Penn had four more triples and Brodeur three more inside jumpers to stretch the advantage to 63-40. The last of those giving the Penn big man 1,827 career points and tying him with the legendary 88 year old Ernie Beck, who was in attendance.
Brodeur missed two free throws and a layup before he hit a layup at the 9:46 mark to break Beck’s 67-year old scoring record.
With the Quakers still up 22, 75-53, at the 5:49 media timeout, the victory was assured and the only drama left was Brodeur’s quest for a triple-double.
Brodeur came out of the break with 21 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Two assists to Martz and Goodman got him the double-double by the three-minute mark and a defensive rebound a minute later gave him the first-ever triple-double.
Thirty seconds later, the Northfield Mount Hermon alum was taken out by his coach to a thunderous standing ovation. Betley came out a few moments later and Goodman sat with 30 seconds left on the clock.
Brodeur, a three time All-Ivy selection and one of the Red & Blue’s all-time greats, added four blocks and two steals to his triple-double. In addition to becoming the Quakers’ all-time leading scorer and shot-blocker, he finished the night sixth in program history in assists.
Goodman scored 17 points on the night, including 12 in the second half. He struggled from the outside, making only one of seven three-pointers but shot 75% when he drove the lane. He also did a solid job on the defensive end, limiting Smith to 33% shooting from the field.
Betley finished with 16 points, 13 points in the first half, and went 5-for-7 from three-point range. Dingle came off the bench to add 16 points with a perfect 4-for-4 clip from outside the arc.
Smith, the Ivy League’s leading scorer, had a team-high 20 points in his last game for Columbia. Three other Lions had double-digit scoring with Jack Forrest and Ike Nweke each scoring 11, while Brumant added 10.
Penn ended up shooting 57% on the night with a dominant 67% from inside the arc and 13 three-pointers (46%). If there was one blemish on the ledger, it was the free throw line, where the victors only managed to make 43%. On the defensive end, the Quakers held the Lions to 39% from the field with 40% from two.
Columbia came into training camp with serious hopes of making it into its first-ever Ivy Tournament, but a season-ending injury to second team All-Ivy guard Gabe Stefanini and a withdrawal by honorable mention All-Ivy forward Patrick Tape proved too difficult for Jim Engles’s squad to overcome.
The Quakers, winners of three in a row, will face No. 1 seed Yale (23-7, 11-3) in a Saturday matinee at 11 a.m. in the opening semifinal of Ivy League Tournament IV at Lavietes Pavilion. The game can be seen on ESPNU.
Over the last four years, the two teams have split their season series, with Penn winning the only Ivy Madness matchup, 80-57, in the 2018 semifinal.
This season, Penn won 69-61 at the Palestra on Feb. 15 and Yale took the Feb. 28 contest, 76-73, at the John J. Lee Amphitheater. In the opener, the Red & Blue were down 58-53 with 4:48 left and finished the game on a 11-3 run. In the return match, the Bulldogs used their ferocious press to overcome a 10-point deficit in the last 98 seconds to earn the improbable comeback win.