Penn Snaps Villanova’s Big 5 Winning Streak


Courtesy of Yahoo! Sports

Penn Snaps Villanova’s Big 5 Winning Streak

Addison Drone

On Tuesday night, Villanova traveled to the Palestra to take on the 8-2 Penn Quakers, falling by a score of 78-75 and ending their Big 5 winning streak at 25. Villanova University’s record-setting 25 game winning streak against their cross-town set of rivals spanned from December 5th, 2012 to their win Saturday against St. Joe’s. With the win, Penn, led by AJ Brodeur and Antonio Woods, scoring 16 points apiece, broke a 15-game losing streak against the Wildcats.

Villanova came into this game with an 8-2 record and winners of their last six contests. However, even with this momentum, the Wildcats came out flat to start the first half, quickly falling behind by a score of 14-2 against the balanced Quaker scoring attack. The Wildcats responded with a 15-0 run, but they let the lead slip away and trailed by four at halftime, 32-28.

The second half featured the two teams trading buckets with Villanova’s deficit ranging from within two points and ten points the entire half. As Villanova tried to mount a comeback, the team kept giving up baskets, a product of effective backdoor cuts from Penn leading to many shots underneath the hoop.

In the comeback effort, Villanova had perhaps their most momentum going into a Penn timeout with just over 5 minutes to play. Down by eight, Collin Gillespie followed a Saddiq Bey jumper with a steal and three-point shot to make the game 63-60. During the final five minutes of action, Villanova was never able to pull any closer to the Quakers as Penn took care of business at the free throw line. With this said, the game was very exciting in the final minute as twice Phil Booth, who finished with 18 points, drained a deep three to keep Villanova in the contest. The second of these threes was with less than two seconds left. Although the Wildcats were able to force a turnover on the inbound play, Booth could not convert another contested three-pointer. The clock expired, and the Quaker faithful stormed the court.

Down the stretch, foul trouble and poor defense hurt Villanova the most. The Wildcats surrendered 45 points in the second half, and key players Joe Cremo, Jermaine Samuels, and Collin Gillespie all fouled out. While Gillespie, who finished with a team-leading 21 points, was able to stay on the court till the waning seconds, Cremo and Samuels picked up their fifth personals earlier in the half and their three-point abilities were missed as Villanova tried to chip away at the Quakers lead.

In the victory, Penn had four players in double figures, including Michael Wang (14 points, six rebounds) and Jake Silpe (11 points, two assists, and four rebounds) who had strong performances off the bench for the Quakers. All in all, Penn played a gritty game, creating a strong defensive presence, crashing the glass, and moving the basketball. This was illustrated in the box score as Penn outrebounded Villanova 35-22 and had 15 assists to the Wildcat’s 6.

Next on the schedule for the Wildcats is a matchup with top-ranked Kansas in Lawrenceville on Saturday. In this Final Four rematch, the Wildcats will look to knock off the Jayhawks for their ninth win of the year.