PHILADELPHIA—Jackson Donahue had played 12 minutes on Saturday night without taking a single shot. But in the 13th minute, the shot he did take was a big one.
With 20 seconds left, a trip to the Ivy League Tournament on the line for the Quakers, and the score knotted at 72, freshman guard Devon Goodman brought the ball up for Penn, looking to find classmate Ryan Betley for the game-winning shot. With Harvard anticipating a Betley look, Goodman pulled an audible and dished to Donahue.
The sophomore was stationed deep behind the three-point line in front of Penn coach Steve Donahue. With a clear view to the hoop, Donahue let one go that hit nothing but net.
Penn coach Steve Donahue acknowledged in the post-game press conference that at first he wasn’t thrilled with the shot selection, but knew as soon as it left Jackson’s hand that it was good. Jackson claims he knew it was good when he first received the pass from Goodman.
“That play down the stretch, it was a great designed play,” Jackson Donahue said. “We were sure someone was going to help somewhere and we were going to find whoever made that mistake [and] Dev found me.”
The bucket put Penn (13-14, 6-8 Ivy League) up 75-72, which would hold for the final score as Harvard sophomore Corey Johnson couldn’t connect on a last-second three.
“It could’ve gone either way, both teams had moments to stretch it out, but couldn’t do it and both teams came back and fought back,” Harvard coach Tommy Amaker said. “It’s always been a tough place to play here on the road against Penn and they’ve been very good here….We just didn’t make enough plays to win the game.”
Harvard (18-9, 10-4) and Penn traded leads in the second frame, eventually leaving the game to the final minute. But this was nothing new for either squad.
Just 24 hours earlier, the Crimson fell to Princeton on a last second layup by Amir Bell. The first time it faced Princeton, it lost on a last second layup by Steven Cook. Of its four Ivy League losses, Harvard has fallen by an average of just 2.75 points per game, with last night’s four-point margin being the widest of any Ancient Eight loss for Harvard this year. The point differential in Penn’s last four games—two wins and two losses—has also been just 2.75 points.
Jackson Donahue hit the three, but Saturday was Matt Howard’s night. Playing on his senior night in his 100th career game with the Quakers, the co-captain was fighting to make sure this was not his last game at the Palestra.
Just minutes after standing center court with his family in celebration of senior night, Howard went off, scoring all of Penn’s first 11 points. Harvard stayed within striking distance, but the Quakers went almost 14 minutes without trailing.
The Crimson took the lead with 6:05 left in the first as freshman wing Justin Bassey dished to senior center Zena Edosomwan, who slammed it home to give Harvard a 23-21 advantage. Edosomwan finished with 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor.
Despite Howard’s dominance, the Crimson went into the locker room up four, as every Quaker except Howard was struggling to find the bottom of the net. As a team, Penn shot 36 percent from the floor in the first frame, but those not named Howard shot just 5-of-18. A trio of Harvard players each contributed eight points—Edosomwan, freshman guard Bryce Aiken, and freshman forward Robert Baker.
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