PHILADELPHIA, PA. 1/19/2019 – The Philadelphia Big Five championship is still to be decided. The University of Pennsylvania defeated Temple 77 – 70. With the win Penn can win the title outright by beating Saint Joseph’s next week. If not, they will share the crown with Villanova. It is and can be a big moment for Penn basketball.
“It means a lot,” said Penn forward AJ Brodeur. “Coming into a good Big Five this year and coming out with three wins against three good teams, we still have work to do. This is what we are focused on now, and we are really excited in the locker room.”
The win came from valuable contributions from the Quakers bench. Jake Silpe made big plays, tying his career-high in made three-pointers. But the one player no one expected played the biggest role. Penn junior forward Jakub Mijakowski was the first substitute for the Red and Blue. He would up scoring a career-high 14 points making 4 of 6 from beyond the arc in nearly 20 minutes on the floor. He made his mark in the game by how well he practiced.
“We’re growing as an offensive team and that allows us to put Kuba (Mijakowski) in there, because we need his offense,” said Penn Coach Steve Donahue. “He is at a point where I can trust him on both sides of the ball. On the scout team, we can’t stop Kuba, and I got smart enough to say let’s use Kuba. He is someone now that can really help us.”
“Today, he gave us what he is capable of,” Brodeur said about Mijakowski. If you came to our practices you would know why he played as much as he did today, and understand that he will give us that kind of production. On a big stage, in a Big Five game, he showed his perseverance, and his work ethic.”
The Owls were in a position to tie for the city series championship. They will not get it, but goals still lie ahead.
“It is something I wanted and am disappointed, but the ultimate goal is to win our conference,” Shizz Alston, Jr. said.
Senior center Ernest Aflakpui made his mark with a career-best in points with 21 and in rebounds grabbing 15. It was the most rebounds in a single game for a Temple player since Jaylen Bond had 15 against Iowa in 2015. However, the Owls did not get as much offense as usual from their top three scorers, Alston, Jr, Quinton Rose, and Nate Pierre-Louis. They were held to a combined 39 points, 11 under their average. Alston, Jr. handed out a game-high 6 assists
“It was our defense forcing them to take shots they did not want to take,” Brodeur said. “That’s what led to our success today.”
Penn connected on 52.8% of their shots (28 of 53) and made 12 of 30 attempts from three-point land. Brodeur was the leading scorer with 16 points and had a team best 7 boards. Devon Goodman had 15 points and 4 assists.
The Red and Blue took the lead nearly five minutes into the game and never relinquished it. Temple did close to within 5 late in the game at 71 – 66 with 1:13 to go, but got no closer.
“We lost against a good team that made shots when they needed to,” Temple Coach Fran Dunphy said.
For the Red and Blue it comes down to Saturday next week. They will go into that contest breaking a four game losing streak. And a win will give the team a lift going into Ancient Eight play.
“If we can win the Big Five championship, we’re comfortable going into the Ivies,” Donahue said.
Written By: Glenn Papazian