Penn was able to answer a bulk of questions and survive a late run in its 76-75 season-opening victory over Robert Morris in head coach Steve Donahue's Penn debut. Sam Jones, who led the way with 21 points, was part of an impressive shooting display by the Quakers.
Being that it was each team’s first regular season action, they spent a good portion of the first half feeling one another out. The teams traded buckets for the first 10 minutes or so. After that, the Quakers outscored the Colonials 26-11 to go into halftime with a 44-28 lead. Jones, a sophomore forward, led the Quakers with 15 first half points, including going 3-of-6 from behind the arc, and Matt Howard, a 6-foot-4 junior guard had 10 points and 2 rebounds.
The Quakers closed out the first half on a 22-9 run, with a combination of hot three-point shooting from the likes of Jones and freshman guard and Cherry Hill, N.J. product, Jake Silpe. Jones shot 3-for-6 from 3-point range in the opening frame, and the team as a whole went 6-for-15 from long distance. To cap it all off, sophomore guard Antonio Woods’ first three-pointer of the young season beat the halftime buzzer and closed out an impressive stretch for Penn, giving the Quakers a 44-28 halftime lead. Robert Morris ended up clawing back and taking a one-point lead in the final minute, but Penn was able to hold on and notch the victory.
Jones definitely shined above the rest in the season opener; he emitted palpable confidence in his shot from the opening possession, launching a deep jumper and earning three shots at the foul line. That confidence never wavered throughout the game--and for good reason--as the sophomore finished with a game-high 21 points on 5-for-12 three-point shooting. Other than Jones, Howard was also a key for Penn, dropping 16 points.
As a team the Quakers shot just over 50 percent from the field, including 10-for-26 percent from beyond the arc for a clip of 38.5 percent. Penn played stingy defense in the first half, holding RMU to 42.9 percent from the field. For the game the Quakers held the Colonials to 46.7 percent and forced forced 11 Colonial turnovers. Penn also had 25 assists on 29 made field goals in the game.
Two days from now Nov. 15 Penn (1-0) hosts Central Connecticut State at 4 pm, while Robert Morris looks to rebound against Cincinnati the same day at 2 pm in Ohio.