It’s unanimous: Clark Slajchert’s heroics elate Penn men and crush Brown


Even before the last-minute dramatics that resulted in a stunning road 88-87 win for the Red & Blue, everything about Saturday night’s game between Penn (12-13, 9-3 Ivy) and Brown (12-15, 4-8) was set up to made it a classic Ivy League showdown.

  • A third-place Quakers team looking to secure a regular season title and No. 1 seed in the upcoming Ivy League Tournament and a sixth-place Bears squad fighting to get to a conference postseason event for the first time.
  • Two first-team All-Ivy stars – Penn’s Jordan Dingle, the league’s leading scorer, and Tamenang Choh, at or near the leaderboard in assists, points and rebounds.
  • Saturday night referees frequently going to their whistles on the second half of a traditional Ivy back-to-back weekend.
  • Passionate announcers, Scott Cordeshi and Russ Tyler, enthusiastically calling each possession while engaging in good-natured ribbing of their favorite target, Penn broadcaster Vince Curran.

The game wasn’t five minutes old when this all-time Ivy League exchange happened after Dingle made a layup instead of a predicted slam dunk on an uncontested breakaway:

Russ: He (Dingle) proved me wrong.  Vince Curran’s never wrong when he does a broadcast.
Scott: You mean the biggest homer in the Ivy League, is that who you mean?
Russ: Well, there’s no question about it!  That’s not anonymous, that’s unanimous!

Mic dropped and all bets off at the Pizzitola Sports Center!

The game was a back-and-forth affair over the first fifteen minutes, with the teams combining for 13 lead changes and six ties.

With the score knotted at 29, Kimo Ferrari, a reserve typically inserted into the lineup for defensive purposes, nailed back-to-back triples from identical areas at the top of the key to give the Bears a six point advantage.  After forcing a Quakers turnover, Choh fed Lilly coming in from the left baseline and his reverse layup made it a 37-29 game.

The Bears were still up eight, 39-31, when they took it right at Penn’s Michael Moshkovitz.

Jaylan Gainey backed the junior forward from Israel into the paint, hitting a short-range jumper and getting Moshkovitz to pick up his second foul.  After the made free throw and a missed shot from Penn, Dan Friday took the ball coast-to-coast and forced the Penn big man into his third foul of the night.

With Friday hitting both free throws, the Bears had a commanding 44-31 lead with just under two minutes left in the half.

The teams were still separated by 13 points a minute later when Slajchert hit a layup and two free throws to make it 44-35.  Slajchert and Lucas Monroe then double-teamed Lilly, forcing a steal with 13 seconds left.  Dingle’s late three-pointer missed the target, but Monroe was there for the putback layup with one second on the clock.

The bucket sent the Bears into the break with a 46-39 lead, but the failure to shut Penn down for the entire twenty minutes of a half would come back to haunt them.

Brown, whose 46 points were a single half season-high, enjoyed success from inside and outside the arc through the opening frame, shooting 60% (12-for-20) from two, 50% (5-for-10) from three and 78% (7-for-9) from the free throw line.  Ferrari and Gainey each had nine points each, going a combined 7-for-7 from the field and 1-for-1 from the line.

The Quakers shot 71% (15-for-21) from two and 75% from the charity stripe in the first half but only managed 11% (1-for-9) from deep.

Ferrari didn’t cool off at the start of the second half, hitting his fourth straight three-point attempt and giving the hosts a quick 53-43 lead.  Unfortunately for the sophomore from San Diego, he committed his third foul just before the first media timeout.

With Brown still up ten, 55-45, Dingle went to work.  The 2020 Ivy League Rookie of the Year started things off with a three from the top of the key.  After forcing David Mitchell into his third foul and hitting the free throw, the lead was cut to six.

Choh went 1-for-2 from the line on the next trip down, while Dingle made two free throws. On the next Penn possession, Dingle hit a deep three over Ferrari to make it 56-54.

Penn grabbed Brown’s missed shot and Slajchert sent a long pass to Monroe at the Brown baseline.  Ferrari went to intercept it but landed awkwardly on his right ankle and had to visit the trainer for a few minutes.  Coming out of the short pause, Dingle hit another three from the top of the key.

By the time Mike Martin called timeout at the 14-minute mark, Dingle had scored Penn’s last 12 points in 90 seconds and the Quakers were back on top, 57-56.

Penn would extend their advantage to seven just before the midway point of the half.  With Penn’s fouls piling up, Brown used the free throws to cut the deficit to one a minute later, but the Quakers rebuilt their lead and found themselves up nine, 81-72, with just under five minutes left in regulation.

Things were going Penn’s way, but the Bears still had some fight left in them.

Friday drove the lane and hit a layup over Dingle on the next possession.  Then, Lilly hit a three from the right baseline.  After Dingle was forced into a turnover, Choh got George Smith to commit his fifth personal foul and sank both free throws to make it an 81-79 contest with three minutes on the clock.

The teams were still separated by two points at the one-minute mark, when Dingle got the ball in his hands at the top of the key.  He got a quick step by Ferrari and hit the driving layup from the left side.  While the announcers voiced their concerns that Dingle pushed off with his right arm, the referees who had been calling an extremely tight game didn’t see it that way.

Down four, Ferrari launched a three from the left wing, but it hit off the rim.  Fortunately for Bruno, Choh got around Max Martz and hit the putback layup with 42 seconds remaining.

After Steve Donahue called the team’s next-to-last timeout, the Red & Blue worked the shot clock down and Dingle had possession with 20 seconds left in the game.  As he tried to go to the hoop through Choh and Gainey, he dribbled the ball off his right foot.  Dingle quickly recovered and dove for the loose ball but ended up in a tie with Gainey.

The possession arrow favored the Bears, but their good news would not make it through the entire 14 seconds and the Quakers would end up mobbing Slajchert upon securing their ninth victory of the Ivy League season.

“We run that play at shootaround every day,” Donahue told sideline reporter Nick Coit immediately after the game. “We don’t make it, usually.”

The Red & Blue still shot the ball well from two in the second half, making 52% (12-for-23) of their attempts. But they improved their three-point shooting to 56% (5-for-9).  They also were strong at the charity stripe, hitting 11 of 12 for 92%. The Bears managed another strong effort from inside the arc, with 56% (10-for-18) from two and 81% (13-for-16) at the line, they couldn’t keep up the success from downtown and dropped to 27% (3-for-11).

“We lost Jelani Williams (who was on the bench with a cast on his left hand after a late-game injury against Harvard on Feb. 12) and he’s the heart and soul of our team, especially on defense,” the coach responded to a question about the team’s improved second half effort.  “It took us three halves [this weekend] to get back to who we were.”

Dingle finished with 31 points on 41% shooting (9-for-22) from the field and a perfect (9-for-9) effort from the free throw line. This was his fourth Ivy contest with 30-plus points and fifth on the seasons.  Slachert had 16 points and Martz added 18 points on 78% (7-for-9) and 70% (7-for-10) shooting, respectively.

Brown ended the night with five players in double figures. Lilly led the way with 20 points, while Friday had 19, Choh totaled 15, Ferrari scored 12 and Gainey finished with 11.

After Saturday night’s action, Penn remains in third place, a half-game behind Princeton (9-3) and Yale (9-3), with two games remaining. The Quakers will travel to Hanover next Saturday for a 2 p.m. game against Dartmouth and finish the regular season by hosting the Tigers on March 5.

The Bears, meanwhile, will need to recover from Saturday night’s result and regroup for next Saturday’s matchup against last-place Columbia. Then they get a week off before traveling to Yale for the season finale.

According to friend of Ivy Hoops Online Luke Benz’s latest analytical model, the Quakers have a 17.9% chance at the top seed and a 15.7% chance at getting the home locker room at Lavietes Pavilion as the No. 2 seed.  Brown’s outlook isn’t nearly as bright. The Bears have a 1.2% chance of getting to the No. 4 seed.

Somewhere in the Philadelphia suburbs, Vince Curran is smiling and getting ready to send some Tastycakes, Peanut Chews and Wishniak to his announcing brethren.