Penn goes cold in NIT consolation game

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Penn forward Fran Dougherty (12) in action against UMBC on Nov. 9, 2012. (Photo: Julie Smith)

Andrew Koob(@AndrewKoob)

The Penn Quakers (1-2) got a great performance out of center Fran Dougherty, but couldn’t get any contributions from the rest of the team in their consolation game in the NIT Season Tip-Off on Tuesday, as they fell to the Fairfield Stags (2-1) 62-53.

Dougherty led the Quakers, earning a double-double with 31 points off of 13-of-21 shooting (61.9 percent) and 10 rebounds. His performance comes off the heels of a great showing against Delaware, when the 6-foot-8 forward scored 21 points and collected six rebounds.

The rest of the Quakers struggled heavily throughout the game and had trouble doing anything right. Excluding Dougherty, Penn shot 5-of-31 (16.1 percent) from the field and 1-of-13 (7.7 percent) from three-point range, while committing 15 turnovers (Dougherty had two turnovers of his own).

Guard Miles Cartwright was the one player on a team that stumbled often that really had a tough game. The junior scored nine points (four of which came from the free throw line), shooting 3-of-9 from the field while hitting a garbage time three-pointer and committing two turnovers while only dishing out one assist.

Dougherty carried the team in the first half, scoring the team’s first ten points in the opening 10 minutes of the game. He went 4-of-7 (57 percent) from the field and 2-of-2 from the free throw line during that stretch, while the rest of the team went 0-for-7. Dougherty ended the first half with 17 points off of 6-of-10 shooting from the field, adding five rebounds to the cause. The rest of the Quakers shot 2-of-15 (13.3 percent) from the field in the first half.

With most of the team going through an apparent cold streak, Penn could have easily been down more. But Stag foul trouble (14 first-half fouls) gave the Quakers numerous trips to the charity stripe. Penn went to the free throw line 13 times, getting 11 points in the first half. Center Darien Nelson-Henry missed the first of a one-and-one and 1-of-2 later in the half. Dougherty, Cartwright and Tony Hicks went a combined 10-of-10 from the line in the first half.

The Quakers continued their struggles from the field in the second half and finally lost their footing to Fairfield when the Stags went on an 18-6 run in a six minute span. Before the run, Penn was only down 34-32 and hoping to make a move before Fairfield put the game out of reach.

Guard Simeon Esprit started in place of Steve Rennard for Penn, a move that speaks to the depth the Quakers can showcase night in and night out. Esprit’s start comes after a game where he only played one minute, while Rennard saw 23 minutes of action against Delaware, scoring five points, hitting 1-of-2 from beyond the arc and committing three turnovers. Esprit, despite the spike in playing time, didn’t make an impact on the stat sheet Tuesday after not taking a shot and

Guard Dau Jok, who saw a combined six minutes in two games against University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Delaware, once again saw very little action. After being named co-captain, along with Cartwright and Dougherty, it’s unclear why Jok has seen such little playing time. Instead, freshman Jamal Lewis, who played 29 minutes against Delaware, again took on a bigger role for Penn.

The Quakers will still play in two more NIT games later this week, with the matchups and locations still to be determined. The 12 teams that do not make it to Madison Square Garden for the NIT’s final four will be re-bracketed and play at the higher seed’s home court.

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