PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It is the final weekend of the regular season in the Ivy League and it is all on the line for the University of Pennsylvania.
The Quakers will host Dartmouth on Friday and Harvard on Saturday at the Palestra. Penn comes into the weekend 12-13 on the season and 5-7 in the Ivy League. That Ancient 8 mark has them tied for fourth with Columbia. Now in previous years, a battle for fourth place wouldn’t have moved the needle, but things are different this season. For the first-time ever, the Ivy League will hold a conference tournament and the top four regular season finishers get to take part. And it will be played at the Palestra. So you can see how high the stakes are for the Quakers.
Penn is coming off a loss to that Columbia team last time out on Saturday, the Quakers losing in New York City, 70-67, in what was a great college basketball game.
“Their Senior Night, a lot on the line,” Penn head coach Steve Donahue tells KYW Newsradio. “I thought the teams played extremely hard. We didn’t play great, but I was real impressed with how we competed and just came up a basket short.”
Listen to the entire interview with Penn head coach Steve Donahue:
That loss to Columbia snapped a five-game winning streak for the Quakers. That winning streak followed an 0-6 start in Ivy play, a start which easily could’ve buried the team. But head coach Steve Donahue says they really came together after the final loss in that streak to Princeton on February 7th.
“There was a renewed sense of dedication,” Donahue says. “Instead of being discouraged, there was obviously disappointment, but I think we put that towards almost a competitive anger and let’s compete better, let’s do things better and figure out how to win.”
This critical weekend for the Quakers starts with Dartmouth on Friday night. The Big Green are 6-19 overall and just 3-9 in the Ancient 8. But one of their wins came over the Quakers in Hanover, New Hampshire back on February 4th, 74-71. Dartmouth features one of the best players in all of the Ivy League in sophomore forward Evan Boudreaux.
“In our league, he’s averaged 20 and 10 in league play the last two years as a freshman and sophomore,” Donahue says. “Just incredible. And he’s kind of on a roll right now, so you have to figure out how you’re going to guard him.”
Penn is being led by freshman forward AJ Brodeur and his 14.0 points and 6.8 rebounds a game. Senior guard Matt Howard chips in 11.6 points and 6.6 rebounds a night.
Penn and Dartmouth get underway at 7:00pm on Friday. Penn and Harvard will tip-off at 7:00pm on Saturday.