The men’s basketball team (13–5 overall, 4–1 Ivy League) took down the Penn Quakers (9–10, 2–3) 72–60 on Monday night in a matchup featuring two Ivy League Player of the Year candidates: senior forward Tosan Evbuomwan and Penn guard Jordan Dingle.
The Tigers entered Penn’s historic Palestra just two days after they suffered a heartbreaking 72–70 away loss to the Brown Bears (9–9, 2–3), despite having an eight-point lead at halftime.
While junior guard Matt Allocco led the way for the Tigers against the Bears, finishing with a team-high 21 points including four three-pointers, it was Brown guard Kino Lilly Jr. who stole the show. Lilly finished with a game-high 26 points, and his pull-up jumper in the final seconds of the game put the Bears ahead with three seconds remaining. The Tigers’ 36.4 percent free-throw shooting also played a role in their loss.
“It’s very difficult to win on the road when you’re missing free throws,” head coach Mitch Henderson ’98 told The Daily Princetonian. “We went four-for-11 from the line and missed them all down the stretch. Those were a key factor in our loss.”
However, it was a different story on Monday in Philadelphia. Henderson told the ‘Prince’ that he asked the team to prioritize free-throw shooting ahead of the game, and the Tigers went 22 for 30 from the line, a vastly improved 73.3 percent clip.
“The guys responded,” Henderson said.
While consistency at the line served the Tigers well, their defensive performance stood out on the stat sheet.
Quakers guard Jordan Dingle ranks third in the nation and first in the Ivy League in scoring with a 23.4 points per game average. And while Dingle managed 21 points against the Tigers, he was largely kept in check.
Dingle, who averages 2.4 three-pointers per game, failed to score a single make from deep for only the second time this season, despite six attempts. He logged six turnovers, and his field goal percentage of 27.3 was a season-low. Allocco served as Dingle’s primary defender for the night.
“He was just great,” Henderson said of Allocco’s defense. “It doesn’t get talked about enough. That’s the deciding factor in a big game: one person does their job so well that it becomes a storyline.”
While Allocco led the way on defense, the reigning Ivy League Player of the Year, Evbuomwan, had perhaps his best offensive performance of the season. He fell one shy of a career-high in scoring, recording 26 points on 13 attempts, along with seven rebounds and three assists. Dingle certainly put up a strong performance, but Evbuomwan came out on top in this matchup between two of the league's best.
“Penn stayed connected to our shooter more than other teams have, so there was an opportunity for me to be more aggressive,” Evbuomwan wrote to the ‘Prince.’
“[Evbuomwan] asserted himself physically on the game, and it gives everyone else such confidence when he’s like that,” Henderson said.
The game itself was close for the first thirty minutes of action. The Tigers entered the second half down a point, but, with an Evbuomwan driving layup, the Tigers capped a 9–2 run that gave them a ten-point lead with 7:32 remaining in the game.
Despite some late efforts from Dingle attacking the basket, the Tigers were able to keep the Quakers at bay, not letting the lead slip below double-digits for the remainder of the game. Henderson was particularly happy with how his team looked in the bounce-back victory.
“It’s good for a couple of reasons: it shows that the group can respond and that they care about improving at this point in the season,” Henderson told the ‘Prince.’
The Tigers had only one prep day between their loss at Brown and their matchup with Penn, and the team’s improvement, despite the quick turnaround, pleased Henderson.
“We got in a little bit of trouble heading into that Brown game thinking that it was going to be easy, but there’s no sneaking up on anybody; it’s such a tough league,” said Henderson.
The Tigers are now preparing for a Jan. 21 league matchup at home against the Dartmouth Big Green (7–12, 3–2), who already have road wins over both the Harvard Crimson and Yale Bulldogs.
“They’re big, they’re physical, and really well coached. It’s gonna be a huge challenge for us,” Henderson said.
Diego Uribe is a contributor to the Sports and News sections at the ‘Prince.’ Please direct any corrections requests to corrections at dailyprincetonian.com.