Men’s basketball fell to 1-2 on the season after losing to the University of Pennsylvania Quakers and in-state rival, the Seton Hall University Pirates this past week. As a young team, the Hawks showed promise in both games, but inexperience eventually caught up with them.
“The mistakes we made tonight were young mistakes,” said head coach King Rice after the first loss. “Now we have two games under our belt. I think this is a team that is going to continue to get better, and I’m extremely proud of them.”
MU first fell to the Quakers 79-73 on Tuesday, Nov. 12 in the team’s home opener at the Multipurpose Activity Center. Junior guard Andrew Nicholas led the Hawks in scoring with 19 points while fellow junior guard Deon Jones chipped in with 17 points on 7-8 shooting. Penn’s guard Miles Cartwright led all scorers with 25 points on the night.
The Hawks got off to a fast start in the game, and jumped out to a 12-2 lead behind three pointers from Nicholas and Jones. The Quakers battled right back, and went on a 20-1 run to take the lead 22-13 with 10:23 remaining in the first period. Penn was able to maintain its lead for the rest of the half, and a late three from Patrick Lucas-Perry sent the Quakers into the half up 41-33.
The second half began with eight straight points from Cartwright followed by two consecutive buckets from teammate Henry Brooks. This helped the Quakers build their largest lead of the game to 11 points at 54-43. Thanks to key scores from freshman guards Justin Robinson and Josh James, the blue and white managed to come back and tie the game at 59 with 8:48 remaining,
Cartwright made the most significant play of the contest just before the two minute mark. The Penn senior had the ball at the top of the key when his teammate Darien Henry-Nelson came and set a screen to give him some room. Nicholas tried to get under the screen to block the shot, but Cartwright was open for a split second and nailed a three pointer to put his team up by 6 with 2:05 left to play.
Penn then converted 6-7 free throws down the stretch to seal the victory. The Hawks shot only 55.2 percent from the free throw line, and also committed 21 turnovers that led to 26 points for the Quakers.
MU was unable to bounce back from the loss as they fell to SHU, 82-66 on Monday, Nov. 18 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. Jones and Nicholas once again led MU in scoring as Jones put in a career high 24 points while Nicholas chipped in with eleven of his own.
“I take my hat off to Seton Hall,” Rice said. “I am proud of my kids for continuing to fight. We are going to continue to work until we figure out ways to win these games.”
Jones got his team off to a quick start as he hit his first shot of the game to put the Hawks up 3-0 within 20 seconds of tip-off. The Pirates then scored seven straight points to take a 7-3 lead before a Robinson layup brought MU within two points.
SHU went on a 15-5 run to extend its lead to 22-10 with just over twelve minutes remaining in the first half. The Hawks managed to cut the lead to seven points after junior Max DiLeo hit a three, but the Pirates again extended their lead, and went into halftime up 38-25.
After the Pirates came out fast in the second half and increased their lead to 26 points, MU managed to go on a run behind three pointers from DiLeo and Nicholas to pull within 13 points with seven minutes left in the game. That was as close as the Hawks would come as the Pirates put the game away in the final few minutes.
The Hawks again struggled from the free throw line, as they shot only 54.8 percent from the stripe. MU did improve with turnovers, however, as they only lost the ball 14 times.
MU next plays Friday, Nov. 22 at St. John’s University for a 9 pm game.