Penn loses by 20 points to Harvard

Penn's Darien Nelson-Henry has the ball kicked out of his hands by Harvard's Kyle Casey in Friday's 20-point loss. The sophomore center scored six points.
Penn's Darien Nelson-Henry has the ball kicked out of his hands by Harvard's Kyle Casey in Friday's 20-point loss. The sophomore center scored six points. (RON CORTES / Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 23, 2014

Penn's turnover problem reminds coach Jerome Allen of his grandmother's broken record player.

New game, same song.

The Quakers have been plagued by turnovers all season, and they committed 20 in an 83-63 loss to Harvard at the Palestra on Friday.

It was the worst-ever home defeat to Harvard for Penn (6-16, 3-5 Ivy League), which had won 74 of 87 home contests against the Crimson (21-4, 8-1) entering Friday. The Quakers lost those previous 13 games by a combined 61 points and never had been beaten by more than 13 points at home until Friday's blowout.

But they've probably never been as bad at protecting the ball, either. Penn entered the game ranked 344th of 345 Division I teams by averaging 16.8 turnovers per game. After Friday, the Quakers evened themselves with Ball State with an NCAA-worst average of 17 turnovers.

"My grandma's house had this old record player. When the needle was scratched, it kept playing the same bar over, over and over again; that's what it seems like," Allen said. "I've been saying it all year, you're not going to win too many basketball games turning the ball over at the clip we do."

Harvard scored 24 points off Penn turnovers.

Fran Dougherty had 15 points to lead three Penn players in double-figures, while Steve Moundou-Missi topped the balanced Crimson with 14 points.

It was the third straight league loss for the Quakers, who have won 25 Ivy titles but will fall short of a championship for the seventh straight season. It wasn't supposed to be this way for Penn, which in the preseason was projected for second.

Allen, though, said the mix has been off all season.

"We underestimate how important team chemistry is," he said. "These guys play for Penn, but we've struggled for the most part this year in being a team. It has been frustrating, it has been disappointing."

In the second half, Allen inserted JV player Matt Poplawski, a member of the Quakers' Ivy championship soccer team, Poplawski was added to the roster due to injuries that reduced Penn to 11 players.

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