Okolie turned in his first career double-double (Gil Talbot).
PHILADELPHIA – The Harvard men's basketball team fell to Penn at the Palestra Saturday night, 67-57, despite a last-minute comeback attempt.
Harvard (9-13, 1-5 Ivy League) whittled a 12-point deficit with less than two minutes remaining to six on Patrick Steeves' layup with 26.2 seconds remaining, and forced a turnover on Penn's (8-11, 2-3 Ivy League) ensuing inbound attempt. Andre Chatfield's 3-point attempt rattled off the rim, however, and the Quakers sealed the victory by hitting 4-of-4 at the line over the final 14 clock ticks.
Steeves scored all 13 of his points in the second half to pace the Crimson as Agunwa Okolie finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double. Corey Johnson also reached double-figures, chipping in 11 points.
Penn had a trio of student-athletes post a double-double led by Darien Nelson-Henry's 18-point, 12-rebound effort. Max Rothschild contributed 14 points and 11 rebounds, with Matt Howard adding 12 points and 11 rebounds.
The Quakers owned a 53-32 advantage on the glass and outscored the Crimson 46-26 in the paint. Harvard did win the turnover battle by forcing 17 Penn miscues while committing only six itself, but scored just 17 points off the Quaker errors.
Harvard returns to Lavietes Pavilion next weekend to host Brown and Yale. The Crimson and Bears will first take the court Friday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m. on the Ivy League Digital Network before Harvard hosts the Bulldogs Saturday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. on NESN and the ILDN.
Harvard scored on each of its first three possessions and took a 7-0 lead on a 3-pointer by Johnson. The freshman buried a second triple to put the score at 10-5, but Penn answered back and tied it on a long-ball from Jackson Donahue.
The Quakers took their first lead at 12-10 on Rothschild's basket before Johnson quickly answered with his third triple to regain the advantage, 13-12. The teams traded the lead four more times before the break, with Sam Jones' 3 giving Penn a 27-25 edge at half.
Penn outscored Harvard 12-5 to open the second half and took a 39-30 lead on a Howard basket. A 3 from Steeves pulled the Crimson within 41-35, and after six-straight points from Okolie the deficit had been cut to 43-41. The Quakers responded to go back in front 50-43, and answered a pair of Harvard baskets to push the score to 58-47.
Another Steeves 3-pointer and a pair of McCarthy free throws cut the deficit to 62-55 with 59.7 seconds to play, and after Steeves drove the lane the score stood at 63-57 with 26.2 to go. Harvard was unable to capitalize in the final moments, however, as Penn held on for the 67-57 win.
Game Notes: Patrick Steeves scored 13 points to lead the team in scoring for the second time … Agunwa Okolie finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds for his first career double-double … Tommy McCarthy dished out five assists and has led Harvard in assists 12 times this season … Harvard's six turnovers were a season low and the lowest total by a Harvard squad against Penn under head coach Tommy Amaker … Harvard has made at least five 3-pointers in 21 of 22 games.