Dougherty's big game not enough for Penn
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Penn’s Fran Dougherty picked up his first double-double of the season, scoring 17 points more than any other player on the floor. But it wasn’t enough for the Quakers in a 62-53 loss to Fairfield in Tuesday afternoon’s consolation game of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Dougherty dominated on both ends of the court, scoring a game-high 31 points on 13-of-21 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds. The 6-foot-8 big man even added a three-pointer for good measure, though he converted just 1 of 5 attempts from distance.
Despite the valiant effort from his junior forward, Penn head coach Jerome Allen was hesitant to dish out any compliments after the defeat.
“What’s so pleasing about losing? I’m not looking for small victories,” the fourth-year coach said. “What I’m looking for is an overall team effort, team wins. At the end of the day, it says Penn lost, Fairfield won. And I can give you 10 plays that Fran had that he didn’t execute.”
The Quakers (1-2) got off to a slow start, allowing the Stags (2-1) to jump out to an 11-point lead at 17-6 only nine minutes in. Dougherty scored Penn’s first 10 points. It wasn’t until the 9:31 mark of the first half when freshman guard Tony Hicks hit two free throws to become the first player other than Dougherty to add to the scoreboard.
Though Fairfield controlled most of the first half, the Quakers went on a run before the break. The Stags led, 29-19, with 4:47 to go, but the Red and Blue managed to cut the deficit to 33-28 by halftime.
Penn carried its momentum into the beginning of the second half, holding its opponent without a point for more than six minutes and cutting the deficit to one. The 13-4 run spanned almost 11 minutes, but it wasn’t enough for Penn to take the lead, which frustrated Allen.
“We come down and we don’t value the possession,” he said. “[We had] several turnovers, couple missed layups, and at this level, you get beat when you don’t convert.
“You work your tail off to come up with stops, but then you don’t go down and convert. Eventually, at some point, the other team is going to start to execute.”
The Stags did, responding with a 7-0 run in just 42 seconds to open up an eight-point lead. They never led by less than six for the remainder of the game.
As maddening as it was for Dougherty that the Quakers missed such an opportunity, he was able to garner a positive perspective from it.
“We showed that we could play defense for seven minutes without giving up a bucket, and that’s really important,” Dougherty said. “If we can do it then, we can do it the whole game. We just need to buy into it.”
No Penn player besides Dougherty reached double digits in scoring. Junior guard Miles Cartwright finished second on the team in points, with nine. For Fairfield, three players reached the 10-point threshold, led by senior guard Derek Needham’s 14.
Following two losses in the NIT Seaon Tip-Off, Penn will be relegated to the consolation bracket of the tournament. Games will resume Monday, but the site and opponent have yet to be determined. In between, the Quakers will host Drexel at the Palestra on Saturday.