Darnell Foreman (above) and Penn improved to 6-0 in Ivy League play with a win at Princeton on Tuesday. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)
Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)
As Penn coach Steve Donahue took out his starters with about two minutes left, the large Quakers’ contingent behind the visitors’ bench rose to its feet and applauded.
Penn’s 82-65 win against Princeton was no longer in doubt, and the Quakers were set to secure their first win at Jadwin Gymnasium in nine years.
The team’s second win against Princeton this season was a big victory in a rivalry that’s been pretty lopsided in recent history, especially for a Penn senior class that was winless in seven tries against the Tigers.
“Going to Penn, your rival is Princeton,” Penn senior guard Darnell Foreman said. “You want to get those guys every chance you get. We all knew as a group we’re letting that down, so we had to find a way. This year happened to be the year.”
Heading into this season, the Quakers had lost eight straight to their Ivy League rivals, including three times last season when Princeton ended Penn’s year with a loss in the Ivy League Tournament at the Palestra.
The Quakers (16-6, 6-0 Ivy League) broke the losing streak with a 76-70 win against the Tigers at the Palestra on Jan. 6. On Tuesday night, they put in a dominant performance, trailing for just 19 seconds of the entire game and never falling behind in the second half.
Tuesday night’s win marked Penn’s first win at Princeton since Feb. 17, 2009 and the Quakers’ first season sweep of the Tigers since the 2007-08 campaign.
“It’s almost another milestone to get a win for us in Jadwin Gymnasium,” sophomore forward A.J. Brodeur said. “Being able to get over that hump for the whole team, the seniors especially, getting them their first win on the road here at Princeton was an incredible feeling.”
Penn put together one of its most complete efforts of the season. The 17-point margin of victory was the Quakers’ largest in six conference games. They hadn’t won any of their previous Ivy League games by double digits.
The Quakers held Princeton to 40.4 percent shooting from the floor, while making 53.6 percent of their own shots. Five Quakers reached double figures in scoring, including Foreman, who netted a career-high 21 points to go along with five steals, and Brodeur, who scored all 17 of his points after halftime.
“The thing that makes us win games is our defensive end, and our toughness at that end,” Donahue said. “Tonight you got the offensive version of that as well.”
Six games into their Ivy League season, the Quakers have fully reversed roles from last year. At this point last year, Penn sat in dead last in the conference standings, still without a win.
Tuesday night’s win was Penn’s sixth conference victory, matching last year’s total with eight Ivy League games remaining.
“Starting 0-6 last year, that’s something that I think is so important to us, just to keep that chip on our shoulder,” Brodeur said. “Coming into this year, even at the end of last year when we went on a run, we always had to remember that ‘We started the season 0-6, we have so much still to prove’ and I still think that.”
The win gave Penn a three-game lead on the Ivy’s third place teams just six games in. In second place is Harvard, sitting one game back at 5-1.
The Quakers play Dartmouth (0-6) in New Hampshire on Friday night before a road test against the Crimson on Saturday.
“It means nothing,” Foreman said of the start. “We still have a ton of work to do.”