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Ugonna Onyekwe 
Ugonna Onyekwe hit a game-high 30 points for Penn Quakers in their 63-77 loss to Oklahoma State in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament
(Photo: Penn Athletics)
Penn 63 Oklahoma State 77
NCAA Tournament - First Round

Fri
day 21 March 2003
FleetCenter - Boston, MA (USA)

 
Not even a career-high 30 point haul from Ugonna Onyekwe was enough to help Penn Quakers advance in the NCAA Tournament, as they were defeated 77-63 by Oklahoma State in Boston last night.

The Ivy League champions had been undefeated in their previous 15 games, and showed no fear in the early going against the higher-ranked Cowboys, with Onyekwe, who hails from London, hitting seven of his eight shots from the field for 18 first-half points.

Penn might have taken a lead into the break had it not been for a freak technical foul with 2.0 seconds remaining, when they errantly had six players on the floor for an inbounds play. Victor Williams hit one of the resulting free throws to edge Oklahoma State ahead 36-35 at the half.

It was a game that saw eight lead changes, but the momentum would shift in the Cowboys direction, sparked by nine consecutive points from their guard Tony Allen, and the Quakers' loss of guard Tim Begley with a badly sprained ankle, to put Big 12 Conference team ahead 59-55.

Onyekwe did bring Penn within 2 points at 61-59, but his inside move with 7:11 left, would prove to be the Quakers last basket from open play in the game.

Penn's turnover count was rapidly increasing, presenting the Cowboys with plentiful transition scoring down the stretch, which helped mask their woeful shooting from the charity stripe - hitting only 11 from 21 free throws in the second half.

Oklahoma State closed the game out with an emphatic 16-4 run, to book their place in the next round, where they will face the third-seeded Syracuse, who knocked off Manhattan 76-65 earlier in the day.

Whilst not the desired result for Onyekwe, playing in his final college game for Penn, it was a performance that justified his selection as the Ivy League Player of the Year for the past two seasons, and no doubt indicates a bright future to come in the ranks of the pro leagues.

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