By Sean Kennedy
Harvard 83, Pennsylvania 63
On a weekend Penn State is raising money for pediatric cancer research with Thon, back in Philly, it was Penn doing the charitable giving, as they committed 20 turnovers in a blowout loss to Harvard. A problem throughout the season for the Quakers, they’re not going to beat many teams taking care of basketball that way, but especially not the top team in the Ivy League. The deficit grew so large in the second half that coach Jerome Allen threw a JV player, Matt Poplawski, into the game.
The Crimson only turned the ball over 8 times, and had 4 starters score in double figures, with the fifth, Siyani Chambers, recording 10 assists. When the Quakers did manage to hold onto the ball, they shot quite well, finishing at 48% for the game. Fran Douherty paced Penn with 15 points on 6-9 shooting. put JV player in the game in the second half. Having now lost three straight games, they’ll host Dartmouth Saturday night.
1:30 PM: Villanova (23-3, 11-2 Big East) vs. St. John’s (18-9, 8-6 Big East) – Fox Sports 1
After narrowly avoiding their first 2-game losing streak of the season in a double-overtime win against Providence, the Wildcats head to the Wells Fargo Center to host a streaking St. John’s team. The Red Storm began the the conference schedule 0-5, but have since won 9 of their past 10 games. including a home win against Wildcats kryptonite Creighton. St. John’s is one of the better defensive teams in the nation, but fortunately for Villanova, the Red Storm will be without center Chris Obekpa due to an ankle injury. The sophomore from Nigeria is top-15 in the nation in blocks, averaging over three per game.
The Wildcats won a close game between these two teams at the Garden in January. Per their usual MO, Villanova had 5 guys in double figures, led by a double-double from JayVaughn Pinkston. D’Angelo Harrison leads the Red Storm in scoring at 18 ppg, shooting just 39% from the field but 87% from the line, shooting a high volume as he’s top-30 in the nation in free throws made. He stuck to that script in the team’s first meeting with a game-high 22 points behind a poor shooting performance but a 13-14 performance from the line. Despite their strong recent play, Obekpa’s absence will be a huge missing piece on the St. John’s defensive back line and Villanova should treat the alumni base at the Wells Fargo Center to a victory.
2:00 PM: Saint Joseph’s (18-7, 8-3 A-10) vs. Fordham (9-15, 2-9 A-10)
The Hawks nearly took themselves off the tournament bubble before rallying late against Rhode Island. They’ll try to secure victory a little sooner when they face another A-10 cellar-dweller in the Fordham Rams. Fordham has lost 5 of 6, with their lone victory over that stretch coming against Rhode Island. When the two teams met in the Bronx last season, the Hawks eked out a 4-point victory, overcoming a game-high 24 points from guard Branden Frazier.
Jon Severe and Frazier have been the top scoring duo for the Rams this year, averaging 19 and 18 points per game, respectively. Severe has shot 37% from three this season, as over half of his made field goals this season have come from behind the arc. Frazier does a little bit of everything, as he’s also second on the team in rebounding, and first in assists at 4.3 per game. However, the Hawks will have a huge size advantage as Fordham starts only one player taller than 6’3″. Expect big nights from Ronald Roberts and Halil Kanacevic to carry St. Joe’s to victory.
4:00 PM: La Salle (12-13, 4-7 A-10) @ Richmond (17-9, 7-4 A-10) – CBS Sports Network
With their own season spiraling out of control, the Explorers, losers of 7 of their past 8 games, will face a Richmond team looking to make moves in the A-10. Before a setback to George Washington earlier this week, the Spiders had won three straight and still find themselves just one game out of second place in the conference. With the top 4 teams earning byes in the A-10 tournament, the difference between moving up there and the 6th-place position they currently hold is a big deal for Richmond’s postseason aspirations.
However, a big obstacle for the Spiders in their quest was a season-ending knee injury to senior point guard Cedrick Lindsay. Richmond has played the last 4 games without the player who led the team in both scoring and assists, placing even more responsibility on the shoulders of Kendall Anthony, who averaging 16 ppg. The 5’8″ Anthony has stepped up his game at the appropriate time though, averaging over 23 points his last 5 games. On the other side of the ball, Richmond features a tough defense, and given the way the La Salle guards have struggled to shoot the ball all season long, I don’t see the Explorers ending their skid in Virginia.
7:00 PM: Pennsylvania (6-16, 3-5 Ivy) vs. Dartmouth (9-14, 2-7 Ivy)
Penn will look to clean up its act when they battle one of the two teams below them in the Ivy League standings. Dartmouth collected one of its two conference wins against the Quakers three weeks ago behind a 25-point effort from Alex Mitola. The Quakers struggled with turnovers in that game as well, with 18 giveaways, and were just 3-16 from three, including an 0-7 mark from Miles Jackson-Cartwright.
The Big Green are on a 5-game losing streak with four of those defeats by double digits. That earlier performance against the Quakers was a season-high effort from Mitola, who leads the team in scoring following the season-ending ACL injury to Gabas Maldunas., but at just 11 ppg on 39% shooting. The Quakers have the more talented team but they’ve been beating themselves a lot lately, and with that having occurred last night against Harvard and previously on Dartmouth’s home court, there’s no reason to think they’ll have things corrected by Saturday night.
9:30 PM: Temple (7-18, 2-11 AAC) @ Memphis (20-6, 9-4 AAC) – ESPNU
The murderer’s row of ranked opponents continues for the Owls when they head down to Memphis hoping not to get roasted by the Tigers. Memphis defeated Temple by double digits in Philly last month as Shaq Goodwin was a beast on the interior with 23 points and 11 rebounds. The bright spot in that game was Dalton Pepper, who hit 4-7 threes for a game-high 24 points. Pepper has gone 7 games without shooting better than 33% from three; the Owls would very much like their leading scorer to re-gain his stroke from the outside.
Senior Joe Jackson struggled in the teams’ first meeting, but leads the team in scoring (14.8), assists (4.6), and steals (1.8), although his efficiency numbers have dropped off from his breakout junior campaign. The Owls will need to contain Jackson once again while also turning things around offensively themselves. It’s been 4 games since Temple shot 40% or better from the field, and against a versatile, athletic Tigers team, their recent level of play is just not going to get it done.