PHILADELPHIA, PA. 1/26/2019 – The University of Pennsylvania claimed the Big Five title winning the city series with a perfect 4 and 0 record. The crown came to the Quakers with a 78 – 70 win over the Saint Joseph’s Hawks. It was only fitting that the game was at the Palestra.
“It is what we talk about, the Big Five experience,” said Penn Coach Steve Donahue. “It’s what we grew up with. Building full. Two teams playing extremely hard. Half the building is rooting for you, half rooting against you. We’re just proud of our guys to achieve what we did, a Big Five championship.”
To achieve the city championship, their first since 2002, was a great achievement for the Red and Blue. To get it outright was enhanced it. The team wanted to win a title and treated it as such.
“We wanted to win,” said Penn forward AJ Brodeur. “The Big Five, we wanted that all to ourselves. We wanted to put that exclamation point at the end of our short Big Five season. Coming into this game, we treated it like it was a championship game. Win or go home, and that’s what we did.”
The game itself was a hard fought one. The intensity was evident from the start. It was not pretty at times, but a scrappy one like it is meant to be. Each shot was contested, each rebound was fought for, each loose ball had players diving after it. The Red and Blue were good at playing ahead, the depleted Hawks had comeback wins. The Quakers prevailed.
Penn was lead by freshman guard Bryce Washington who a career-high with 23 points. He also set career-marks in rebounds (10), made three-pointers (6), and assists (4). A career-night, but his thoughts were about this special moment.
“I knew the Big Five was something special, the basketball fans love it,” said Penn guard Bryce Washington. “To win at the Palestra, there is nothing better than that.”
The outcome was still in doubt, a one possession game until Penn guard Jake Silpe made a three from the corner with 1:40 on the clock giving the Quakers a 73 – 67 lead. The Red and Blue closed it out with 4 free throws at the end.
Saint Joseph’s was lead by Charlie Brown who scored a game-high 27 points and 12 rebounds. The junior guard shot 11 of 23 from the filed, but was 1 of 8 from distance.
“He is playing the game easier, ” Saint Joseph’s Coach Phil Martelli said about Brown. “I like the fact that he is getting shot attempts. We’re limited.”
As a team the Hawks were 3 from 24 from distance while Penn was 14 of 38. Penn is one of the best teams in the country guarding the three-point arc. The Hawks were forced to go inside more. The misses close to the basket and mistakes (10 turnovers) were the deciding factor to Martelli.
“Turnovers and missed layups, that’s the thing,” Martelli said. “You can’t turn the ball over and plays at the rim.”
The teams will concentrate on league play. Penn (12 – 6) will have their first Ivy road weekend of the season going to Cornell and Columbia. Saint Joseph’s ((9 – 11) goes to Dayton on Tuesday.
Written By: Glenn Papazian