After four months and 26 games, Penn’s chance at making its fourth straight Ivy Madness appearance now comes down to one final contest.
Following a closely matched 24 minutes, the Quakers used a 12-4 run, punctuated by back-to-back threes from Ryan Betley and Jordan Dingle, to create separation from Cornell and cruise to a 78-64 victory on Friday night.
There were seven lead changes, before Penn (15-11, 7-6 Ivy) took a 17-16 advantage at the 10 minute mark and kept control for the rest of the half. The Quakers would eventually go to the locker room with a 35-32 advantage.
Both teams shot the ball well, with the Red & Blue shooting 46%, including 31% (5-for-16) from three and the Big Red (6-20, 3-10) hitting 48% from the field, with 50% (5-10) from beyond the arc. Betley led the way with eight points and AJ Brodeur added seven. Cornell’s Terrance McBride, meanwhile, led all scorers with 15 points.
With Penn still ahead three, 43-40, early in the second half, rookie Max Martz hit a layup off a Josh Warren block of Devon Goodman to put the Quakers up five. On Penn’s next offensive possession, Brodeur hit a baby hook after an offensive rebound to stretch the lead to seven. Ninety seconds later, Dev Goodman spun around Bryan Knapp and hit a mid-range jumper to give the home team a nine-point advantage, 49-40.
Koby Dickson hit a layup and Marcus Filien tossed a close range left-handed jumper to cut the deficit to five. Just when it looked like the Red were going to get back in the game, Brodeur hit an open Betley along the right baseline and the senior wing hit a three to make it 52-44. Next time down the court, a driving Goodman kicked the ball out to an open Dingle on the right side of the three point line to give Penn a double-digit lead for the first time all night.
Cornell would score the next four points to make it a 55-48 game with 10 minutes left in regulation, but that would be as close as the Red would get.
The Quakers stretched the lead to a game-high 16 with just under three minutes left, after Brodeur found Dingle for another open three and the big man went passed Dickson for a reverse layup. A late three from Jimmy Boeheim, who returned after missing the last four games to injury, and a layup from Goodman ended the scoring on the night with Penn claiming with a 78-64 victory.
The Red & Blue had a very good night on offense, shooting 63% from two, 36% (11-for-31) from three and 78% (7-for-9) from the line. They also managed to share the ball, netting 18 assists on its 30 baskets. Defensively, the Quakers gave up 60% (9-for-15) from beyond the arc, but held the Red to only 42% from two (38% in the decisive second half).
Brodeur led the way, yet again, for Penn with 22 points (75% shooting), 10 rebounds and seven assists. He now has 1,811 career points, 16 away from tying the great Ernie Beck for the all-time Penn scoring record.
The three-time All-Ivy forward from Northborough, Mass., will go for the record on Saturday night with the 88-year old Beck in attendance.
Dingle and Martz each had 12 points with Dingle making four of six three-pointers and Martz making five of 11 shots. Betley was the fourth double-digit scorer for the victors with 11 points (33% shooting), as well as five rebounds and three assists. Goodman added nine points, five assists and a block.
McBride had 22 points on 50% shooting in the loss, while Dickson and Dean Noll scored 11 each.
With Brown’s 64-55 upset of Harvard at Lavietes Pavilion, the two teams remain tied at 7-7 with only one game left in the regular season. Since the Crimson (9-4) lost and Yale (11-2) defeated Dartmouth, the Bulldogs are the undisputed Ivy League champions.
Since Penn and Brown split their season series and the Quakers have a better record against top seeded Yale (1-1 vs 0-2), the Red & Blue head into Saturday night’s finale with the upper hand and control of its destiny.
A win against Columbia (1-12) gives Penn the No. 4 seed in next week’s Ivy Tournament, no matter how Brown fares at Dartmouth (5-8). If both teams lose, Penn still gets the nod. The only way for the Red & Blue to miss out on the Madness is to lose to the Lions while Bruno defeats the Big Green.
Penn kicks things off from the Palestra at 6 p.m., while the Bears get going an hour later at Leede Arena. Both games will be available on ESPN+.