Penn men leave Myrtle Beach Invitational with a positive 1-2 result

The Penn men went wire to wire for a 71-63 win over Old Dominion to close out the Myrtle Beach Invitational on Sunday afternoon.  While the Quakers’ record over the four-day tournament in Conway, S.C. was 1-2 and they finished the eight-team tournament in seventh place, the Red & Blue jumped from a KenPom ranking of 210 to a season-best 196.

Utah State 87, Penn 79 2OT

Thursday’s opener was against eventual tournament champion Utah State, a top-100 team that was picked for fifth place in the competitive Mountain West Conference.

With senior forward Michael Wang out with an injury, Penn (2-3) went back to a four-guard starting lineup. The Quakers recovered from an early eight-point deficit to take a 17-16 lead with 7:30 to go in the half. The teams would undergo three lead changes before a jumper from sophomore guard Jordan Dingle knotted the game at 28 and ended the scoring for the first 20 minutes.

The Aggies came out hot in the second half, opening up a 12-point lead, 50-38, with 12 minutes left in regulation.  Just when the ESPN announcers thought the game was slipping out of their hands, the Quakers mounted a comeback.  The Red & Blue went on a 18-5 run over the next seven minutes, taking the 56-55 lead on a four-point play by Dingle.

With a 61-59 lead with 90 seconds on the clock, a three by Utah State junior point guard Rylan Jones gave Utah State the one-point advantage.  After a timeout, sophomore forward/guard Max Martz hit his own three to put Penn back on top.  Brandon Horvath, a transfer who came to Utah State with his former UMBC coach Ryan Odom, recovered from an early twisted ankle to hit a layup and end the scoring in regulation.

Penn held a three-point lead, 69-66, halfway through the extra frame but the Aggies went on a 5-0 run to give them a two-point lead with a minute to go in the first overtime.  With the shot clock at one, Martz hit an apparent three-pointer from the left elbow to give the Quakers the 74-73 lead with thirty seconds to go.  The refs, however, reviewed the video and came away stating that Martz’s shot was a two-pointer because his toe was on the line.  After rebounding Utah State’s missed floater with seven seconds left, junior guard Lucas Monroe raced upcourt and just missed converting a contested jumper at the buzzer.

The Quakers kept things close in the second overtime, down 79-77 with 1:44 left, but that would be as close as they would get. Rylan Jones put the Red & Blue away with a jumper and four free throws.

Penn shot 51% (19-for-37) from two and 88% (14-for-16) from the free throw line.  However, they only managed to shoot 27% (9-for-33) from three.  Utah State hit only 48% from inside the arc, but 42% (8-for-19) from outside the arc and 90% (15-for-17) from the charity stripe.

Dingle led the way for the Quakers, scoring 31 points (42% FG, 80% FT), while Martz, continuing to recover from an early season injury, added 12 points and six rebounds.  Fifth-year senior Jelani Williams, playing in his first group of games for the Red & Blue after multiple ACL injuries, had six points, seven rebounds and seven assists in 39 minutes of action.  For the victors, senior forward Justin Bean had a game-high 33 points and 16 rebounds.  Horvath put up 14 points and eight rebounds, while Jones had 21 points and went a perfect 10-for-10 from the charity stripe.

Davidson 72, Penn 60

Steve Donahue’s squad had a quick 24-hour turnaround to get ready to face Bob McKillop’s Wildcats (2-2), another top-100 team and the No. 6 ranked team in the A-10.

After Thursday’s performance, Max Martz joined the starting lineup to give the Quakers (2-4) additional offense and little more size in the frontcourt.  Things started off poorly for Penn, giving up 11 straight points over the first four minutes.  Swapping out the starters didn’t give any boost and the Quakers were down 18-5 with 11 minutes to go.

Penn finally awoke offensively, going on a 16-4 run to make it a 22-21 contest with 6:45 remaining in the first half.  Davidson responded with seven straight points over the next 90 seconds, but the Quakers battled back to tie things up at 29 with under a minute remaining.  A three-pointer by senior forward Luka Brajkovic on the next possession would give the Wildcats the 32-29 advantage as the teams went to the locker room.

Davidson made its first three shots from downtown to open up a 41-36 lead in the opening minutes of the second half and stretched it to a 12-point advantage.  Thursday’s double overtime, added to the four games in the season’s opening week, finally caught up to the Red & Blue, and they failed to mount another comeback.  Penn would get no closer than eight the rest of the way, as the Wildcats would go on to the 12-point victory.

The Quakers would shoot 60% (15-for-25) from inside the arc, but only manage 30% (8-for-27) from outside and 60% (6-for-10) from the line.  Davidson hit 53% (19-for-36) from two, but made 44% (8-for-18) from three and 91% (10-for-11) from the charity stripe.

Penn was again led by Jordan Dingle with 13 points, followed by Jelani Williams who had 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting.  The Wildcats had four double-digit scorers, led by redshirt sophomore forward Sam Mennenga with 17, Brajkovic with 14, redshirt junior guard Michael Jones with 13 and junior guard/forward Hyunjung Lee with 12.

Penn 71, Old Dominion 63

After a day of rest, the Quakers got back to business facing the Monarchs of Old Dominion, a top-200 team and the fifth-ranked squad in the 14-team Conference USA.

With a reported injury to starting center Max Lorca-Lloyd, first-year forward/center Nick Spinoso joined Dingle, Martz, Williams and junior guard Jonah Charles in the opening lineup.

Offense was hard to come by for both teams over the game’s first 10 minutes, with the Quakers holding a 14-12 advantage.  Penn would gain some momentum in the next three minutes, going on a 10-2 run on the strength of back-to-back three pointers from Martz and Charles. The Monarchs stopped things from getting worse and managed to recover enough to end the first 20 minutes down by six, 31-25.

The Quakers opened up a 10-point lead in the first three minutes of the second half, before a Jelani Williams three made it 48-37 with 13:30 remaining.  Back-to-back baskets by senior forward Austin Trice and sophomore guard Mekhi Long in the next minute made it a seven-point contest, but that would be the closest Old Dominion got until there was just over two minutes remaining.  With the score 67-61, Jordan Dingle and Williams went a combined 4-for-4 from the line to secure the victory.

On the day, Penn shot a solid 54% from two (14-for-26) and 44% (11-for-25) from three, while going a disappointing 56% (10-for-18) from the free throw line.  The Monarchs hit 42% (8-for-19) from outside, but were held to only 36% (16-for-44) from inside.

Charles and Dingle both scored 16 points on the day with Charles adding seven rebounds.  Spinoso had his second career double-digit scoring game with 10 points, as well as a career-high seven boards.  The Monarchs were led by sophomore guard Jaylin Hunter, who had a stat-stuffing day of 15 points, eight assists and six rebounds.