PHILADELPHIA -- The PA announcer welcomed those bleary-eyed basketball fans with a hearty "Good morning, ladies and gentleman and welcome to the Daskalakis Athletic Center!"
This was no ordinary game between Philadelphia city schools Penn and Drexel and not just because the visiting Quakers walked only four blocks to play a game that started before most students roll out of bed.
The made-for-TV 10 a.m. tipoff made this a game of dunks and dunking doughnuts. Students ditched class and grabbed muffins and coffee along the way for a fast breakfast to go with their fast break.
Then they stuck around for a game that could rattle some nerves before lunch.
Penn's Zack Rosen was fouled on a 3-point attempt and missed two free throws in the final seconds, and Drexel held on to beat the Quakers 66-64 on Tuesday in their first home game against a city school in 16 years.
"Finally, we got one in our building," Drexel coach Bruiser Flint said. "Anybody that don't think that makes a difference, didn't watch the game today."
The Ivy League Quakers and their Colonial Athletic Association neighbors at Drexel are the closest geographical rivals in college basketball -- only four blocks separates them. Yet this was the first time Penn played at the cozy Daskalakis Athletic Center in a series that dates to the 1920-21 season.
Billed as "The Battle of 33rd Street," the matchup was one of 14 games being played as part of ESPN's College Hoops Tip-off Marathon and started at 10 a.m. local time. ESPN aired a game from the DAC for the first time since the 1994-95 season, when the Dragons and Malik Rose defeated Northeastern in the North Atlantic Conference championship game.
"You get riled up, you get ready, you get excited," Flint said.
Penn coach Glen Miller held two practices a week at 7 a.m. to get the Quakers in the mood for the unique start. Drexel practiced at 6:30 a.m.
The Quakers saved on gas, taking a crisp fall stroll through University City for their date at the DAC. They started on 33rd Street., took a left on Market Street, a right on 34th and came in through the back entrance.
Dressed in winter hats and sweaters, fans were treated to free bagels, doughnuts and coffee on their way into the gym. About 2,500 fans packed the sold out DAC and the PA announcer asked fans to move in on their bleacher seats to make room for others.
One student held a sign that read "Prof. Roberts -- If you see this, I swear I'm still in sick."
Penn's Kevin Egee (8-for-13; 18 points) brought his A game, but he didn't earn one for the day in the class he skipped: Social Problems in Public Policy.
Egee sank a 3-pointer with 14.7 seconds left to pull the Quakers to 65-63 and quiet the Dragons fans.
Rosen was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 3.6 seconds to go and had a chance to send the game into overtime, but he missed two of three from the line. Brennan Votel, who scored 17 points, then missed their last-chance shot.
Tramanyne Hawthorne and Scott Rodgers each scored 13 points for Drexel (1-0). Kevin Egee scored 18 points and Brennan Votel had 17 for the Quakers (0-2). Rosen finished with 14.
Penn sophomore Josh Reverand hadn't missed a class to attend the game, but didn't plan to attend the rest of the ones on his Tuesday schedule.
"A lot of my friends weren't coming because it was too early," he said. "We expected nobody to be here."
Penn was the first of Philadelphia's other five Division I basketball programs to play at the DAC since Saint Joseph's in the 1992-93 season.
Penn students poked fun at the DAC with chants of "High School gym!"
Long the outsider on the Philadelphia college basketball scene, Drexel's campus was buzzing about playing the Ivy Leaguers on national television.
"People were really pumped for it," said Drexel junior Jared Lucchesi. "It was kind of tough to get up for it, but everyone found it pretty exciting."
Not everything changed from the normal nighttime tip. Drexel senior Brian Yagel ditched class and had already hit a local bar for some pregame beers.
"It's something different," he said.