Quakers Rebound Against Big Red

Posted: February 08, 1992

Barring something unforeseen, Penn's basketball team will not win the Ivy League title this season.

Whatever hopes the Quakers might have had vanished Tuesday night, when Barry Pierce's three-point shot at the horn glanced harmlessly off the rim to

allow visiting Princeton to escape with a two-point win, and a three-game lead over Penn in the standings.

So last night at the Palestra, the Quakers, playing pretty much for pride

from here on, got on with the rest of their season.

They held off a Cornell team that they should be able to beat, especially in their own building, 83-74.

Call it a restart.

"I'm always worried about whether we're ready or not to go, no matter what happened the previous game," said coach Fran Dunphy, whose team got back over the .500 mark, at 9-8, and is now 2-3 in the Ivies heading into tonight's home game against Columbia. "This was a big weekend for us. We need to get back on the winning track.

"We talked about that a lot. We'd like to win all of our remaining games. Obviously, this was a first step. We've got nine more left, and I hope our guys continue to respond in the same way. For the most part, I was pleased. I want to see more. We can't afford any lulls. We do some things not the best. But we were able to survive them."

The Quakers came out strong. They opened up a 32-19 lead with five minutes to go before intermission. But by the break, their lead was only 36-31. The gap basically stayed around the same throughout much of the second half. Penn led, 60-51, with 9 1/2 minutes left and 70-61 some 4 1/2 minutes later. But Cornell (2-14, 0-5) got things down to 74-70 at the 2:02 mark.

By the time the Big Red scored its next points, with 30 seconds showing, it was 80-72, and time to call it an evening.

"We had a day off Wednesday to just get Princeton out of our system," said senior guard Ken Graf, who matched a season high with 17 points, which is seven more than he scored in the last three games combined. "We knew how disappointing it was, but we gave it our best shot. I don't think we ever lost confidence."

Pierce also had 17 points for Penn. Vince Curran had 12, on just three shots from the field, to go with 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. Paul Chambers had 11 points, 7 assists, 6 boards and 5 steals. Jerry Berzanski, who like Graf came in off the bench, scored 10, all in the second half. And so the Quakers got by without getting much from two of their big contributors lately, freshmen Jerome Allen (six points) and Shawn Trice (eight).

"We have a lot of role players on our team," Dunphy said. "It's up to them to respond at the right time. It's a fun way to play."

Cornell, which is coached by former NBA player Jan van Breda Kolff, the son of the legendary Butch, went down for the seventh straight time, and has lost nine of its last 10. Four players scored in double figures, led by senior guard Shawn Maharaj's 18. Before fouling out in the final minute, he also picked up 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 3 steals.

"It's a dogfight every night in this league," Pierce said. "You can find that out the hard way, which unfortunately we did. So we just came out, looking for a win."

The proceedings did deteriorate into raggedness, as noted by the 43 personal fouls and 35 turnovers. But Penn offset that by making 19 of 24 free throws in the last 20 minutes.

"There were a couple of times during the course of the game where we didn't pay attention to what we had to do," Dunphy said. "But, at the end, we came back, and understood what the job at hand was. Some guys stepped up. That's the kind of team I hope we still are."

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