(3) Villanova 62

(7-0, 2-0 away)

Pennsylvania 55

(3-4, 3-3 home)

    8:00 PM ET, December 13, 2005

    Palestra, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    1 2 T
    #3VILL 32 3062
    PENN 23 3255

    Top Performers

    Villanova: A. Ray 19 Pts, 6 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl

    Pennsylvania: F. Ebede 13 Pts, 10 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl

    Villanova holds on for first 7-0 start since 1995-96

    PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The reasons suggested for Villanova's tightest game yet came at Allan Ray faster than a Penn scoring flurry.

    The third-ranked Wildcats were due for a letdown. They were tired. Anything can happen at the Palestra.

    Ray wouldn't bite.

    "I don't think that happened," he said. "Penn's just a real good team. They went right at Duke."

    The Quakers came right at the Wildcats, too, even if it was a bit late.

    Ray scored 19 points and Villanova withstood a 24-7 run late in the second half to beat pesky Penn 62-55 on Tuesday night.

    Randy Foye scored 16 points and Mike Nardi had 14 for the Wildcats (7-0), who got off to a shaky start in the first of three straight games against their Big 5 city rivals before opening the Big East season at No. 4 Louisville on Jan. 5.

    "It wasn't the prettiest game, but give Penn credit. They didn't quit," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "It's the Big 5. I didn't expect anything less."

    The Quakers (3-4) put quite a scare into Villanova's first 7-0 start since 1995-96. Penn already played the No. 1 team in the country, losing 72-59 at Duke only six days ago.

    With top reserve Steve Danley out with a concussion and leading scorer Ibrahim Jaaber held to one point in the first half, the Quakers found themselves down by 21 early in the second.

    Then Jaaber got rolling, the Wildcats couldn't buy a basket and this turned into another city series classic.

    Every Penn basket in the second half was a layup until Jaaber hit a 3 that made it 55-40 with 6:40 left. The Quakers had missed all 18 3-point attempts until Jaaber, who scored 14 points, hit one from the right side.

    Mark Zoller converted a Villanova turnover into a layup, then Penn forced a jump ball that led to two free throws from Friedrich Ebede that got the deficit to 11. With the Penn student section clad in red and rocking the famed home of the Big 5 like they would for a game this big, Jaaber made two more free throws to make it 55-46.

    "We wanted to keep our heads in the game and not let it get out of hand," Jaaber said.

    With Gov. Ed Rendell applauding the Penn rally from the stands, Ebede went strong inside for another basket to make it 55-48.

    Jaaber hit a jumper from the right and punched his fist in the air as the crowd erupted. After another Villanova miss, Jaaber delivered again, this time making one of two free throws that pulled the Quakers to 55-51 with just under 2 minutes left.

    Wright, already nervously glancing at the scoreboard after every basket, erupted at the refs after the Wildcats were whistled for a technical for having too many players on the court. Jaaber went to the free throw line and hit both shots, pulling the Quakers to 57-53 and capping the incredible run.

    "It's nice we had a run in us," Penn coach Fran Dunphy.

    Ray's layup with 12:28 left in the half was Villanova's last field goal until Foye's pull-up jumper with 52 seconds left pushed the lead to 59-53 and the Wildcats survived their toughest test yet.

    "It's their home court and they played with great intensity," Wright said. "We couldn't put them away."

    Ebede finished with 13 points and Zoller had 12 for the Quakers.

    "They're not one-dimensional players, they can shoot the ball," Wright said. "Ebede's good off the dribble. He hurt us."

    The Wildcats were 7-for-22 from the field in the second half and committed 15 turnovers in the game.

    "No matter what, we stay together and keep playing hard," Foye said.

    Kyle Lowry, one of Villanova's four starting guards scoring in double digits, played only 1 minute in the first half after picking up two quick fouls, and was held scoreless.

    Villanova's win came a day before the 50th anniversary of the first Big 5 game when Saint Joseph's beat the Wildcats 83-70 in front of 2,636 fans at the Palestra. The fantastic finishes have been coming ever since.

    "Crazy things happen in this place," Wright said. "It's a great atmosphere. It should make you stronger later in the year."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 62 55
    FG Made-Attempted 18-45 (.400) 21-62 (.339)
    3P Made-Attempted 6-19 (.316) 1-20 (.050)
    FT Made-Attempted 20-27 (.741) 12-19 (.632)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (0/0) 21 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 21 1

    2005-06 Season

    » Dec 13, 2005 VILL 62, @PENN 55Recap