There were tears in the Pennsylvania locker room last night at the Baltimore Arena, and they weren't all shed over the 91-85 overtime loss to Alabama in the East Regional.
This was the end of an era for Penn's senior-dominated team, which went undefeated in the Ivy League the last three seasons.
"You want to smile," guard Jerome Allen said as emotions flowed. "It's a good feeling. This school has done so much for me. I don't think I could ever pay them back."
Before the media were allowed to enter the locker room, each of the players had a chance to talk. The players opted not to repeat the conversation, though.
"I think that's something that's within the team," guard Matt Maloney said. "Everyone had something to say. It was a great moment to recognize our accomplishments. This was inevitable. What we've done throughout our careers -- we should be really proud."
Penn went down kicking. The Quakers forced overtime with two free throws by Ira Bowman with 48 seconds left. That tied the game at 67. Even after Alabama scored the first 11 points of overtime, Penn stubbornly refused to fold.
When Allen hit the second of back-to-back three-pointers with 16 seconds left, it cut Alabama's lead to three. Bryan Passink hit a foul shot to make it a four-point game, but Allen lost the ball and Antonio McDyess finished it with a dunk.
"If I didn't turn the ball over, maybe we could have hit a three," said Allen, whose 30 points was 16 more than his season average. "But that didn't happen."
McDyess' 39 points set an Alabama record in NCAA tournament play, topping a 35-point outing by Leon Douglas in 1976 against North Carolina. His 19 rebounds (eight offensive) -- were two off the Tide record of 21, also by Douglass in 1975 against Arizona State.
"He took his game to another level," said guard Marvin Orange. "Down the stretch, he wanted the basketball and when we got it to him, he made big plays."
Patience pays off
Jamal Faulkner, Alabama's senior guard and its second-leading scorer, made only one of 10 field-goal attempts in regulation, but he didn't let it bother him.
The Crimson Tide was ahead 71-67 in the overtime when Faulkner nailed a three-pointer with 3:03 to go. After a miss by Allen at the other end, he came right back with another three, and Alabama was on to the second round.
The crowd rallied behind Penn, but Faulkner said it took more than a little noise to rattle the Crimson Tide.
"We know we're up north," Faulkner said. "We knew that there would be a large Penn contingent, but we've been in rougher places than this."