PHILADELPHIA, November 14, 2011 – The calendar said it was the earliest Big Five game played. It didn’t matter what day it was. What did matter was that the game was as intense a Big Five battle that any fan would want to witness. The University of Pennsylvania and Temple men’s basketball teams went back and forth until Temple finally found a way to win 73 – 67 on overtime at the Palestra. It seemed more like survival to Temple Coach Fran Dunphy.
“I was hoping we’d be successful in how we played,” said Dunphy. “I think for the third year in a row Penn probably played better than we did. We just scored more points. I thought Zack Rosen was great, and we made clutch shots at the end. Both teams played really, really hard.”
The game had a rather curious ending. Temple Senior Guard Juan Fernandez made a three-pointer to give his team a 69 – 64 lead with 17 seconds remaining. Penn Senior Guard Zack Rosen answered with a three at the 7.1 second mark to bring the Quakers back to within two points. On the ensuing inbounds play Penn Sophomore Guard Miles Cartwright was called for an intentional foul on Temple Junior Guard T.J. DiLeo.
“I was cutting through, and I think he (Cartwright) wrapped me up for a minute,” Said DiLeo. “From the ref’s point of view it looked like he fouled me intentionally. I think he wrapped both of his arms around me, but I’m not positively sure.”
Penn Coach Jerome Allen protested the call, and was charged with a technical foul. Fernandez made two technical foul shots to give Temple a 71 – 67 lead. DiLeo made two more free throws at the 4.5 second mark to give the Owls the final margin of victory. The call did not win the game for Temple or lose the game for Penn, but it may have denied the Quakers a last second chance to win the game.
“I told our guys that games don’t come down to one possession,” Allen said. “But I think the call was bad, bad for the game. I will never say anything bad about refereeing because we are all human and make mistakes. Do I believe he was wrong? Absolutely. I am not saying we lost the game because of that possession, but it was a bad call and I’ll stand by that.”
The 6,273 people in attendance were treated to a Big Five classic that will be remembered for a game that was back and forth and in doubt until the end. They will remember a game that featured clutch shots made by key players on each team. Rosen made three consecutive three-pointers to bring Penn to within one at 46 – 45 with 9:58 on the clock. Rosen scored a game-high 27 points making 7 of 10 from distance. His three with 1:20 to play put the Quakers in front 57 – 56. Temple Senior Guard Ramone Moore made a free throw to tie the game at 57. Penn had a last chance, but a long jumper by Tyler Bernardini was short, and the game went into overtime.
In the extra period Penn jumped out to a 64 – 61 lead on a lay up by Senior Forward Rob Belcore. Temple answered with a lay up from Fernandez and a three from Moore that gave Temple the lead at 66 – 64 with 1:18 to play in overtime. Fernandez made a clutch three-pointer to put Temple in front by 69 – 64 with 17 seconds on the clock. Then the final seconds played out in Temple’s favor.
Fernandez led Temple with 19 points making 7 of 14 from the floor and 3 of 6 three-point field goals. He added 5 assists. Moore scored 15 points. Senior Forward Michael Eric had a game-high 10 rebounds, 5 offensive and 5 defensive. DiLeo scored a career-high 10 points and a huge blocked shot on Rosen with 42 seconds left in regulation. To be able to win this early season battle was important for Temple as they played without Junior Guard Khalif Wyatt and Senior Forward Scootie Randall.
“It’s always good to start the season with a win no matter how,” said Fernandez. “Nobody said it would be easy. It shows that every team is going to be tough. We can’t fall back, there is nothing more than getting better from now on.”
In addition to his 27 points Rosen also handed out a game-high 6 assists and 6 rebounds. Sophomore Forward Fran Dougherty scored 10 points and grabbed 6 rebounds. Cartwright scored 8 points and added a team-best 7 rebounds. Despite his stats and nearly willing his Penn team to victory, it all had little consolation for Rosen. Winning the game was the only thing that mattered.
“It’s really frustrating,” said Rosen. “Our entire group came in against a team that no one in this room thought we had no shot at beating, but we expected to win. We believed we deserved to win the game, and that we were good enough to win the game. When expectations aren’t met it is really frustrating. For myself and the Seniors we will leave here not having beaten Temple once. I thought our effort was good.”
Temple has won the last five games in this series. If this game is any indication of the future, it is going to be a thrilling year of city series basketball.
Written By: Glenn Papazian