VILLANOVA, Pa. — Saddiq Bey scored a career-high 27 points to lead No. 23 Villanova to an 80-69 victory over Penn on Wednesday night.
The Wildcats (6-2) finally pulled away from the Quakers over the final 2 minutes to avoid a second straight loss to their Philadelphia basketball rival. Justin Moore converted a three-point play to give Villanova the breathing room it needed to hold off pesky Penn (5-4).
Jordan Dingle and AJ Brodeur each scored 18 points for Penn. Moore finished with 17 for the Wildcats.
The Quakers pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Philly hoops history last season when they knocked off the national champion Wildcats 78-75 at the Palestra. The Wildcats had won a city-record 25 straight games against Big 5 rivals Temple, Saint Joseph’s, La Salle and the Quakers. Penn would win the Big 5 title but not the Ivy League crown that could have sent it back to the NCAA Tournament.
The Quakers came out determined to prove they were no one-upset wonder. They forced the game into the paint and kept the Wildcats from relying on the 3 to put them away. Brodeur scored 12 points and the Quakers had the game tied at 30-all late in the first half.
Jermaine Samuels swayed the game toward Villanova on a monster block on Devon Goodman’s fast-break attempt and Bey capitalized with a thunderous jam on the other end that brought the fans to their feet. The dunk gave Bey 23 points, one better than his career high set earlier this season against Army.
Much like last season, the Quakers weren’t going away.
Goodman buried a 3 and quickly dunked off his own steal to bring the 11½-point underdog Quakers within four midway through the second half. Dingle hit a 3 to make it a one-point game and suddenly the thought of another shocker was in full force on Villanova’s campus. Penn students stormed the court, tossed streamers, hopped around at midcourt, and mobbed the players after last season’s win at the Palestra.
The fans inside the Pavilion were all but silenced when the Quakers made it 48-47. The Quakers kept driving inside to keep the deficit within single digits and Dingle got a rise out of the Penn bench on a two-handed dunk. Try as they might, the Quakers couldn’t stop Bey and couldn’t go on enough of a run to ever take the lead. Goodman hit Penn’s seventh 3 to make it 68-64 with Bey on the bench with four fouls.
The Wildcats held Penn to only five points over the final 4 minutes to hang on for the tougher-than-necessary victory. Bey was 10 of 18 overall with six rebounds.
Penn: The Quakers have never won on Villanova’s campus, falling to 0-12.
Villanova: The Wildcats have 26 Big 5 titles, second to Temple’s 28. Villanova won five straight before the Quakers ended the run last season but the Wildcats seem poised to go hard after another city title this season.
Penn: The Quakers have a long layoff until they host Widener on Dec. 21.
Villanova: The Wildcats play Sunday at Saint Joseph’s in traditionally the biggest city hoops game of the season.