One night after dropping a home game to the Ivy League's worst team, Penn topped its conference leader with a 75-72 win on Saturday night over Harvard at the Palestra in a nationally televised game.
The Ivy weekend split is the fifth straight for the Quakers, who improve to 5-6 in league play and 8-20 overall. Harvard falls to 9-3, 17-9.
Though the Quakers led from start to finish, the Crimson pulled within three at 62-59 late in regulation during a stretch in which they hit 5 of 6 attempts from distance. But Harvard didn't have posession in the final minute -- until a desperate last-second heave fell well short of the rim as the final buzzer sounded.
Tony Hicks led all scorers with 24 points on the evening on 9-for-17 shooting. Big man Darien Nelson-Henry recorded a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Wesley Saunders dropped a team-high 20 for the Crimson.
Penn completely controlled play in the first half on offense, defense and virtually everywhere but the charity stripe.
After forcing a shotclock violation on the very first possession following the tip, the Quakers went up early on the very next possession with a Nelson-Henry layup. Penn held the lead throughout, stretching it to as many as 16 points before the Crimson put up a quick four in the final seven seconds to make it 38-26 at the half.
Paced by Hicks' 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting, Penn converted 53 percent of its attempts from the field while holding Harvard to a measly 26 percent rate.
The Crimson's lone saving grace was free-throw shooting. They were 12 of 15 at the line, while Penn was 4 of 4.
Inside the box score
• Penn shot a lethal 53 percent on the night, hitting 28 of 53 attempts.
• The Crimson made their living at the line and from beyond the arc. The Crimson made their living at the line and from beyond the arc. They were 24 for 33 on free throws and 10 for 21 from three while Penn was 17 for 24 and 2 for 8 in each category, respectively.
• Penn dominated down low in the first half, outscoring Harvard, 20-6, in the paint.
The opening two possessions of the game. Harvard took the opening tip, but Penn set its defensive tone right away, forcing a shotclock violation on the Crimson. On the ensuing possession, Nelson-Henry muscled his way to pull down his own miss and put back an easy layup to put the Quakers up, 2-0. Penn never looked back.
On Feb. 15 at Lavietes Pavilion in Boston, the Crimson rolled to a 73-54 victory.
Wesley Saunders led the way with 23 points, while his teammate Kenyatta Smith pitched in 20. For Penn, Nelson-Henry and Cameron Gunter were the only players to reach double-digits, with 14 and 10 points, respectively.
Harvard blocked away 15 Penn shots on the night.
Ivy title watch
The Crimson entered the game first place in the Ancient Eight at 9-2, half a game ahead of Princeton, which they fell to on Friday night.
But following the Tigers' 68-63 win over Dartmouth on Saturday, Harvard will enter the final weekend of league play a game back in the loss column. The regular season is all-important in the Ivy League, which does not have a postseason conference tournament.
Jerome Allen presented Cartwright with a game ball before the tip for passing the 1,000-point threshold for his career. The Penn junior captain achieved the feat last Friday at Cornell, when he dropped 15 points in a 79-71 Quakers victory.
Penn extends its overwhelming lead in the all-time series to 129-35. Harvard had taken seven of the last eight contests entering Saturday night. The win marked the first for the Quakers over the Crimson at the Palestra since 2008.
Did you know?
Ivy League schools in proximity to one another also travel road trips in pairs, meaning Penn always welcomes Harvard and Dartmouth to the Palestra on the same weekend. In 56 times hosting the New England schools, the Quakers have swept the weekend 43 times but have been swept just once -- in 2009.
Penn hits the road in New England for its final away trip of the year. The Quakers will be at Brown on Friday and Yale on Saturday. In the season finale, they may have a chance to play spoiler when they host Princeton at the Palestra on March 12.
The Crimson wrap up their regular season slate at home, hosting Columbia on Friday and Cornell on Saturday.