The Big Red had only one of those five wins, and it was against Division III Oberlin. This finally was a game Penn was not only supposed to win, but win easily.
It was easy for a while. It got somewhat interesting later. It was a 90-83 Penn win.
Penn's Tony Hicks and Miles Jackson-Cartwright combined for 46 points, 12 assists and only three turnovers. At halftime, when Penn led, 50-32, it was 28 points, seven assists and zero turnovers.
It was not a great shock that Penn (5-13, 2-2 Ivy) was able to shoot 20-for-31 (64.5 percent) in the first half. It was a man bites dog stat when the Quakers had had only three turnovers at the break.
"I liked the last 11 minutes of the first half," Penn coach Jerome Allen said.
The teams, the coach pointed out, were trading baskets. Then, it was Penn, 24-8, to close out the half.
Penn freshman guard Matt Howard had played only 83 minutes and scored 21 points on the season. He was a revelation in the first half with seven points, a steal, a block and two rebounds. He can help, and did before he got his fourth foul with 13 minutes left in the game.
"It was good to see him get rewarded for his hard work," Allen said.
Cornell (1-18, 0-5) never stopped trying, scored 51 points in the second half while shooting 51.4 percent. The Big Red got within six a few times as Penn's second-half defense resembled what Cornell played in the first half, five invisible men waving as the man with the ball cruised about unopposed. The Big Red got 16 offensive rebounds and beat Penn in second-chance points, 19-3.
"Hopefully [tonight against Columbia], we can put it together for a longer stretch," Allen said.
Fran Dougherty had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Quakers. But it was definitely the Hicks (27 points) and Jackson-Cartwright (19) Show.
"We were just staying in attack mode, and then the shots started falling in," Jackson-Cartwright said. "Just trying to stay aggressive."
Penn has lost a few games this season it looked as if it had to win. This game, even when Cornell closed, Penn played to win and got a season-high 90 points. But it was against a team that is 1-18, so it is hard to put some greater meaning into it. The Quakers are in a bad spot early in the Ivy season, and everybody knows it.
"We still have a lot of basketball in front of us, that's the good thing," Allen said. "The bad thing is we don't have a lot of basketball ahead of us. We try to stay in the moment."
At this moment, Penn has 10 Ivy games remaining. Harvard is out there, alone in front. Penn is trying to get better.