Arizona men's basketball was expected to cruise through a Wooden Legacy field this week in Anaheim that lacks the star power of previous seasons. The Quakers hope to bounce back and earn a victory in this contest to finish the tournament strong. Penn kept the game close all night, but it fell to the Wildcats by a score of 92-82.
Penn (4-3) was led by Jordan Dingle's career-high 27 points on 7-of-14 shooting from 3-point range. Penn has given its freshman class extensive minutes to start the season, with Jordan Dingle, Max Martz, and Lucas Monroe each averaging more than 10 minutes per contest thus far. The Quakers have now won 16 straight and 31 of the past 32 games when shooting at least 50 percent. Shooting 80.7 percent entering the Wooden Legacy this week, Nnaji has shot 11 for 17 over two Wooden games but also has intangibly increased his teammates' scoring, too. "I thought we guarded that shot or deflected it. Give the kid credit he made it".
Mannion led the team in scoring during the first 20 minutes of play with 9 and points and would go onto being the leading scorer, finishing with 24 points.
Nnaji and Jeter's production inside countered the Quakers' ability to move the ball and score inside early, and the Wildcats' inside advantage became even more pronounced in the second half with Brodeur in foul trouble. "And we still have two to three more till we play another home game; that affects your shooting as well". UCF outrebounded Penn on the offensive glass, 22-3.
Despite that, the Quakers were bailed out by their excellent shooting.
In the second game, the Wildcats took on a Penn team that like Pepperdine, was not afraid to take the three-point shot.
In the game's final 20 seconds with UCF down three, the Knights shot three three-point attempts, but the Quakers were able to grab a defensive rebound. The referees viewed the replay and determined Green's foot was on the line and it was ruled a two-point shot, ending the game.
Arizona (8-0) will play Wake Forest (5-2) in the championship game Sunday. Playing in California, the fans were noticeably present for the Wildcats, filling the small arena with cheers in favor of Arizona throughout the contest.
In the first game, the Wildcats faced off against Lorenzo Romar and Pepperdine Waves.
For the second consecutive game, Arizona had a big lead in the second half, but things got closer late.
Get our newsletter, Dear Penn, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. "In the second half we made them", Penn coach Steve Donahue said. In his absence, the Quakers stepped up shooting from behind the arc. Jeter finished with a season-high 19, Nnaji with 16, and Josh Green and Dylan Smith had 14 and 10 points respectively.
The Quakers struggled to stop the Arizona offense, which was highlighted freshman guard Nico Mannion, a top-10 recruit nationally.
Arizona used an 11-2 run the rest of the half to go into the locker room up 41-33, with Mannion connecting on a 3-pointer and jumper during the stretch to give Arizona some breathing room. Long Beach State was dropped 88-75 in their semifinal matchup Friday afternoon.