PHILADELPHIA — – Tyler Perkins wasn’t paying attention to the Big 5 – “I thought it was the conference,” he said – or what Penn’s win in the crosstown series against Villanova would mean for the program until the rain at the Palestra. .
When Penn’s team thinned, the new guard who planned the upset could agree: He called Penn’s shot.
“When we started testing,” he knew, Perkins said.
“Did you say, ‘start scouting?'” coach Steve Donahue asked to laughter.
“He told me that,” Quakers guard Clark Slajchert confirmed.
Perkins scored 22 points and Penn trailed just 53 seconds into a 76-72 victory at No.
Slajchert hit two of the game’s three free throws in the final three seconds to win and fire up Penn’s team.
“I felt that it was a difficult time for us to be able to do this,” he said.
Penn students expressed their own closed-mindedness and tossed around the traditional broadcasters of the Big 5. Many paused to take pictures of the scoreboard. The Quakers held on to help sing a song against the strikers and supporters.
“The Palestra is in front of our university,” Donahue said.
It looks like most of the 6,273 fans went through the door.
The Quakers (3-1), 12-point underdogs according to the , won for just the 19th time in 70 games against the Wildcats in a series that began in 1922.
Perkins was involved on the floor. He hit a step-back 3-pointer for a nine-point lead and Cameron Thrower buried a 3 for a 60-51 advantage with 7:20 left.
Perkins hit big buckets each time the Wildcats (2-1) got close. He hit a second-chance 3-pointer that extended the lead to 68-57 and set the Quakers up for their second win over Villanova in six years.
Justin Moore, who led Villanova with 25 points, sank a 3 to make it 73-69 with 10.9 seconds left and another 3 to make it 74-72 with 3.8 seconds left to stop the crowd.
Just for a while. Under second-year coach Kyle Neptune, the Wildcats simply ran out of time. All that was left was to avoid the rush of students.
“We always believe in ourselves until the last second,” said Neptune.
It’s more than just the talent gap that has separated the programs this season. There is a lot of money at stake.
The Wildcats are building on an estimated $3 million in name, image, and likeness combined while Penn — which already denies athletic scholarships — has NIL funds.
But Donahue is able to orchestrate an upset at the Palestra over the Big East giants from the Main Line. Penn fans stormed the court again in 2018 after the Quakers beat Villanova. Donahue, who led Cornell to the Sweet 16 in 2010, hasn’t had much success since.
But there’s something about playing at the Palestra, dubbed the Cathedral of College Basketball, that sparks those long-held dreams.
Dreams are good.
Long shots help a lot.
Penn opened with a 3-pointer, a four-point game and those 12-point dogs on the ‘Cats just went up by six. Penn’s position made the Wildcats, who never ran hard. The Quakers led 32-30 at halftime — Villanova only led 3-0 and 30-28 at halftime — and a second stunner under Donahue seemed within reach.
“When you get that kind of feeling, there’s nothing like college basketball,” Donahue said. “I sold these boys, come here, this is what they dreamed of. Then you go out and have a compass that works on the court, that’s why you play.”
MAJOR CHANGES 5
Penn, La Salle, Temple, Saint Joseph and Villanova are joined this season by Philly’s Sixth Division I program, Drexel. No more round robin play. The schools are instead divided into three-team pods with games played on campus, and the teams are set for a Dec. tripleheader. 2 at the Wells Fargo Center for the Big 5 title.
In a hometown series long dominated by Villanova, Penn is still alive with a Big 5 title.
Penn plays Saturday at Maryland-Eastern Shore.
Villanova hosts Maryland on Friday.