Quakeaways from Penn men’s basketball’s 105-83 loss to Princeton

Penn’s Ivy campaign came to a miserable end on Saturday night as the Quakers made history for all the wrong reasons.

The Quakers turned in a defensive no-show against rival Princeton in a 105-83 loss at the Palestra. The 100-piece was the first time either Penn (11-18, 3-11 Ivy) or Princeton (24-3, 12-2) scored 100 points in a rivalry that has spanned 250 games (shoutout to Ivy Hoops Online contributor Steven Tydings for the lookup).

Princeton sealed an outright Ivy League title and kept its hopes of attaining an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament alive with the breezy victory. The Tigers never trailed on Saturday night and shot an absurd 17-for-27 from three-point range, good for a 63% clip. Princeton has now beaten Penn 11 times in a row.

After a nonconference campaign that inspired reason for genuine hope, Penn wound up posting its worst Ivy season since 1956-57. That iteration of the Red and Blue also went 3-11 in league play.

What could Penn fans take away from a moribund evening?

Clark Slajchert went down fighting.

Slajchert put up a strong performance in his final game wearing red and blue. The senior put up 20 points on 11 shots and checked out after draining a long triple inside of a minute to play in the second half.

It’s been written many times on this site but it bears repeating: Slajchert was robbed of an All-Ivy campaign by the unfortunate timing of the high ankle sprain he suffered in late December.

The guard made strong strides in all elements of his game this season, which was typified on Saturday by the six assists he dished out while facing numerous double teams.

Slajchert will be a coveted commodity in the transfer portal.

Penn’s defense needs a total overhaul.

It’s hard to believe just how bad Penn’s defense was on Saturday.

The home team simply had no answer for Princeton’s frontcourt. Nick Spinoso was excellent offensively on Saturday (17 points on 11 shots) but couldn’t handle Zach Martini and Caden Pierce. The Tigers’ starting forwards combined to score 55 points on 27 shots. Martini hit seven of his nine three-point attempts.

Penn ranked 293rd in opponent-adjusted defense on KenPom before Saturday. That ranking dipped to 321st after Saturday’s game was factored in.

Whatever the coaching staff tried this year, it didn’t work. Penn was a decent rebounding team but allowed opponents to put up threes — especially open threes — at a ridiculously high rate.

Saturday was proof positive of why that strategy is doomed to fail.

The core of this team next year looks pretty strong.

It was nice to see Tyler Perkins finish his freshman campaign with a nice performance. Perkins put up 17 points on 12 shots. If Harvard’s Malik Mack wasn’t around, he’d have been the obvious choice for Ivy League Rookie of the Year.

Penn’s outside shooting was poor on Saturday, but fellow freshman Sam Brown finished with 10 points overall and hit one deep three-pointer in three attempts.

Those two will be asked to carry the load next season without Slajchert around.

As for the players around them and Spinoso? There are enough pieces in place that should emerge as supporting characters. Junior Eddie Holland III finished with nine points on four shots and drew a handful of fouls. Sophomore Cam Thrower was in street clothes on Saturday, but he closed the season with three double-figure scoring efforts in his last four games.

It’s not completely crazy to expect this team to take a step forward next season.

1 thought on “Quakeaways from Penn men’s basketball’s 105-83 loss to Princeton”

  1. Real nice of you to shoutout your friend and tremendous writer Steven Tydings there. Anyway, a tough loss, but I’m looking forward to the next game. We’re sure to win at Levien on Saturday *sits on hands until November*

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