CLOSE

SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Scott Gleeson tells us which teams have lived up to their expectations and which teams are jumping out to unexpected hot starts.
USA TODAY

PHILADELPHIA – AJ Brodeur and Antonio Woods each scored 16 points as Penn beat No. 16 Villanova 78-75 on Tuesday night, the Quakers’ first win over the Wildcats since 2002.

Penn fans stormed the court after Villanova’s Phil Booth missed the tying 3-point attempt and set off a regular-season celebration not seen in Philly in years. And with good reason – the national champion Wildcats had won a city-record 25 straight games against Big 5 rivals Temple, Saint Joseph’s, La Salle and the Quakers.

Penn’s student section started rocking the bleachers with minutes left, and the Quakers avoided a late scare and delivered the latest memorable moment at the Palestra.

Penn coach Steve Donahue, who led Cornell to the Sweet 16 in 2010, may have another blooming Ivy League power. Penn last beat Villanova at the Palestra on Dec. 5, 2001, and hadn’t beat them at all since Dec. 10, 2002.

“Just the look, when you come out of the locker room and it’s a sea of red,” Donahue said. “I’m glad we were able to reward them.”

The Wildcats (8-3) hadn’t lost a city series game since dropping a 76-61 decision to Temple on Dec. 5, 2012.

READ ALSO  Everything you didn't see on TV

Donahue slapped hands with fans that lingered on the court and fans tossed streamers and went wild as they topped the champs.

Villanova coach Jay Wright calmly tugged at his suit and looked at the scoreboard that read 75-69 as the Wildcats went into a timeout needing a hoops miracle to pull this one off. They nearly got one – Booth hit a fall-away 3 that that pulled them to 75-72 and another with 1.3 seconds to go that made it 78-75.

Woods sailed an in-bounds pass wildly out of bounds and Nova had one last shot.

Booth, a senior guard with two national championships, missed his last one and the Penn party was on.

“It was nice while it lasted,” Wright said. “We learn from it. It was fun to be a part of it.”

Michael Wang added 14 points for Penn (9-2).

Collin Gillespie scored 21 points and Booth finished with 18 for Villanova.

The Wildcats have been solid but may have been outside the AP Top 25 without its championship pedigree. They fell out of the poll for a week on the heels of consecutive home losses to Michigan and Furman. But they had won six straight and fattened their record in the city series they made their own.

The Quakers came out for primed for an upset at the Palestra, home of some of the greatest moments in Philadelphia college hoops history. With a packed house on hand – “corners,” as it’s called at the Palestra – and students holding signs that read “There’s No Fear Here,” Penn did just about everything right early to position itself for an upset. Bryce Washington hit a pair of 3s and the Quakers raced to a 14-2 lead over the rattled Wildcats.

READ ALSO  805 Santa Barbara Club Represented on USA Water Polo Youth Teams | Sports

The Wildcats have an epic city-series winning streak for a reason and steadied themselves with a 15-0 run. Wang and Woods responded and buried consecutive 3s to help Penn – a 7½-point underdog – led 32-28 at the break.

The Wildcats missed their first six free throws of the second half and Jermaine Samuels and Joe Cremo each had four fouls just 5 minutes into the second as Nova fell behind by 10. Cremo, who averaged seven points off the bench, fouled out with 6:18 left and Penn up 61-53.

The Quakers had been building toward a monumental upset since coach Donahue was hired in 2015. Donahue, who flamed out at Boston College, won 11 and 13 games his first two seasons before guiding the Quakers to a 24-9 record and their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2007. The Quakers opened this season 4-0 and would upset Miami 89-75 at the Palestra for their first win over Power Five conference team since the 2002-03 season.