VILLANOVA, PA. 12/5/2018 – In one of the more intriguing games in the city this season, the #21 Villanova Wildcats played the Temple Owls in a widely anticipated Big Five battle. The Wildcats have won 23 city series games in a row. A Big Five game is a rivalry game. For a team that has won so many consecutive contests is incredible. The last city team to beat Villanova was Temple, and did so on North Broad Street. And there is one thing about a Big Five game.
“You never know what is going to happen,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright.
“A lot of these guys are playing in a Big Five game for the first time, and no matter how much you tell them about it, they just have to experience it. ”
True in this case. The game was played at Temple’s pace. The Wildcats offense was stalled as the Owls limited the Nova top scorers. It was time for others to step up. That player was Jermaine Samuels who scored a career and team high 15 points and 7 rebounds leading Villanova to a 69 – 59 win over Temple making it 24 consecutive Big Five wins by the Cats.
“I was playing off my teammates,” said Samuels. “I was open and I knocked them down doing it for my guys.”
Samuels scored 12 of his points in the last 9:17 of the game. Temple led 43 – 38 when the sophomore forward drained a three-pointer. Later, trailing 47 – 43, another three by Samuels sparked a 12 – 0 run by Villanova that keyed the victory. Graduate Joe Cremo added 9 points. Two of his baskets kept the Owls at bay.
“Samuels stepping up like he did hurt us badly,” said Temple Coach Fran Dunphy.
“I thought we did some good things in the second half which got us a lead, but we couldn’t sustain it.”
The game appeared to be going in the direction of the Cherry and White. They limited the Wildcats Phil Booth and Eric Paschall to a total of 19 points. The Owls got offensive production from Nate Pierre-Louis who scored a game-high 19 points and played well on defenses against Booth. Shizz Alston, Jr. added 15 points for the Owls and Quinton Rose contributed 13. However, Temple was sunk by the Nova run where they had 2 turnovers, 2 fouls, and two missed shots. Once Villanova got in front, they kept the lead.
“We had a nice lead, but programs like Villanova, when they get a lead, they step on you,” said Alston, Jr. “There is a lesson. When we’re up like that on the road, you’ve got to step on their neck. That’s what we didn’t do.”
The Owls fall to 7 – 2 on the season and are 1 – 1 in the city series.
Villanova is also 7 – 2, and are halfway to another Big Five Championship. The Cats can wrap that up as their next two games are against Philly opponents Saint Joseph’s and Penn. Winning a game in this manner will help Nova learn as a team.
“Big Five games always helped us,” Wright said. “There is a familiarity. They know each other well. It makes it tough to score.”
“Getting down, having to battle back, that’s how you grow as a team.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian