Penn vs. Columbia: Al Bagnoli returns to Franklin Field


Penn vs. Columbia: Al Bagnoli returns to Franklin Field

Columbia (1-3, 0-1) at Penn (2-2, 1-0)
Franklin Field, Philadelphia
Saturday, 3 p.m.

Welcome back, Al Bagnoli.

In a game that many Penn people have probably been looking forward to for a while, the former Quaker football coach returns to Franklin Field for the first time as a visiting coach. Here’s a look at the matchup.

Scouting Penn
The Quakers won their second straight game last week, knocking off Central Connecticut State, 28-16, behind two passing touchdowns and one rushing TD from quarterback Alek Torgersen. Running back Tre Solomon had another good game with 114 rushing yards and a touchdown, while standout receiver Justin Watson had a team-high nine catches for 84 yards. Solomon leads the Ivy League in rushing while Watson is second in receptions per game and third in receiving yards. Penn’s defense remains near the bottom of the Ivies statistically but held CCSU to just 22 rushing yards last week with Louis Vecchio finishing with six tackles, one sack, 2.5 tackles for a loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. For the season, linebacker Colton Moskal ranks third in the league in tackles with 9.2 per game.

Scouting Columbia
After three straight losses, Columbia won its first game of the season with a 15-13 victory over Wagner last week. The Lions managed to win on the strength of a school-record five field goals from freshman Oren Milstein, a career-high 107 rushing yards from senior Alan Watson, and a defense that allowed zero points, three first downs and 63 yards in the second half. Gianmarco Rea, the Ivy League’s leading tackler (11.2 per game) led the defense with a sack and 10 tackles. As a team, Columbia ranks third in the Ivies in total defense and scoring defense. But the Lions’ offense is one of the worst in the country, ranking 117th out of 122 teams in scoring (12.8 points per game) and 108th in total yards (285.8 per game).

Series history
It’s been quite the one-sided series with Penn owning a 73-21-1 edge all-time edge and winning 19 in a row. In their first matchup against Bagnoli last year, the Quakers stormed to a 42-7 win.

Storyline to watch
The Penn players and coaching staff are trying their best not to make a big deal of it but it’s hard to ignore Bagnoli returning to the place where he won a record nine Ivy League titles in 23 years. It will also be interesting to see how the Penn players and fans react. It’s unlikely he’ll be treated as a conquering hero since he retired from coaching after the 2014 season and took an administrative job at Penn before shocking everyone and bolting for Columbia. But considering all he did for the Quakers, he’ll probably get a nice reception — until the game starts.

What’s at stake?
On top of getting the satisfaction of beating their old coach, the Quakers need a win to keep place with Harvard and Princeton atop the Ivy League.

Bagnoli’s return probably won’t be too pleasant for him.

Penn 28, Columbia 10

Penn State holds off Marquette to reach NIT semifinals

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Penn State holds off Marquette to reach NIT semifinals


MILWAUKEE -- Lamar Stevens tied his career high with 30 points, Tony Carr added 25 and Penn State beat Marquette 85-80 on Tuesday night to advance to the NIT semifinals.

The Nittany Lions (24-13) will face Mississippi State (25-11) at Madison Square Garden in New York on March 27. They advanced to the NIT semis for the first time since winning the 2009 tournament.

Stevens hit three crucial buckets in the final three minutes, including a dunk off an alley-oop pass from Josh Reaves for an eight-point lead with one minute left. The 6-foot-8 Stevens then maneuvered through a couple Marquette players to secure a rebound off Andrew Rowsey's missed 3 with 46 seconds left.

Carr went 5 of 8 from the foul line over the final 30 seconds to give Marquette another chance. Rowsey hit a 3 and a layup to get the Golden Eagles as close as 83-80 with six seconds left before the Golden Eagles ran out of time.

Shep Garner scored 19 points and set two Penn State records, including most 3s in a season (112). Garner's 73 career wins are the most in a four-year span since Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1992-93.

Rowsey, a senior, scored 29 points for Marquette (21-14).

The Golden Eagles had whittled a 14-point deficit early in the second half to 72-68 with 2:39 left on three foul shots by Rowsey. Penn State went nearly three minutes without a bucket and got sloppy with the ball and the sharpshooting Golden Eagles started hitting 3s to get back in the game.

Villanova, Penn with polar opposite NCAA Tournament draws

Villanova, Penn with polar opposite NCAA Tournament draws

No surprises on the Main Line and well, the Quakers have quite the hill to climb to advance.

Villanova on Sunday night was awarded the 1-seed in the East Region and will face the winner of the LIU Brooklyn/Radford game Thursday in Pittsburgh. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:50 p.m. on TNT.

The Wildcats have been a top-two seed since 2014 and it's the second straight year they're a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Villanova was the No. 1 overall seed in last year's tournament.

Penn was named the 16th seed in the Midwest Region and will face the No. 1-seeded Kansas Jayhawks on Thursday at 2 p.m. on TBS in Wichita, Kansas.

Steve Donahue has the Quakers back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007 in his third season as Penn's head coach.

The Quakers are 24-8 and this will be their 24th-ever appearance in the tournament.

'Nova survived a scare from Providence on Saturday night to win its second straight Big East title and its third in the past four years.

If the Wildcats beat LIU Brooklyn/Radford, they'll face the winner of the No. 8-seeded Virginia Tech and No. 9 seed Alabama. Purdue is the No. 2 seed in the East.

Also in the East are No. 3 Texas Tech and No. 4 Wichita State.