PHILADELPHIA, PA 11/9/2013 – It was the earliest Big Five game per the calendar, November 9. But it could have been November 27, December 17, January 8, or February 21. Once the ball was in the air to start the game, it was a Big Five game, and lived up to the history of the city series. The University of Pennsylvania Quakers took a 73 – 71 lead with 1:39 to play erasing a 15 point lead. The Temple Owls responded with a 7 – 0 run down the stretch to earn a 78 – 73 win at the Palestra.
“We are still a work in progress,” said Temple Coach Fran Dunphy. “There is good character with this group. We found a way. We didn’t play better than Penn down the stretch, but did for a large part of the game.”
“We don’t pride ourselves in putting up a good fight,” said Penn Coach Jerome Allen. “It’s unfortunate to use all of that energy in coming back. Why we don’t play that way from the opening tip? We’ve got to get better.”
“We didn’t play with the right sense of urgency for 33 minutes.”
The Owls appeared to be in control leading by 42 – 35 at halftime. In the second half the Owls stretched the lead to as many as 15 points leading 63 – 48 on a three-pointer by junior guard Will Cummings with 12:56 to play. Cummings scored a career-high 18 points. The Cherry and White stayed in control by rebounding the basketball. Temple had 49 rebounds, 20 on the offensive glass, to 35 for Penn.
“Our offensive rebounding was great,” Dunphy said. “We thought we get a few, but not this many, and everybody contributed.”
Then the game suddenly changed. The Owls were scoring led by a career-best 19 points and 9 rebounds by senior guard Dalton Pepper. His basket at the 8:06 mark put Temple ahead 69 – 55. That would be the last basket for the Owls for 5 minutes. Penn started their comeback scoring 10 straight points. A layup by junior forward Anthony Lee broke the Penn run and gave the Owls a 71 – 65 lead. Penn started another run behind 8 straight points by sophomore guard Tony Hicks. A goal tending call on a Hicks layup put the Quakers ahead 73 – 71 at the 1:39 mark. Hicks scored a game-high 28 points.
Now it was old-time Palestra. A sold out crowd and both cheering sections going wild. Temple came out and got a layup by Anthony Lee off a Cummings assist to tie the game at 73. After a turnover Pepper gave the Owls the lead back at 75 – 73. Following a miss by Hicks, Cummings was fouled and made one of two free throws at the 23.9 mark. Temple had the lead in a one possession game. Penn called timeout with 16.7 seconds to play trying to get the tying basket. The ball went to Hicks who looked for an opening but found Temple defenders. Hicks got off a jumper that missed.
“We tried to run a misdirection,” Allen said about the strategy in the final timeout. “They switched the action to one side and forced us into a tough shot.”
“I kind of rushed it,” said Hicks.
Temple rebounded and ended the scoring with two Pepper free throws who ended the game with a team-high 19 points and added 9 rebounds. Lee had 12 points and 12 rebounds for a double-double. Sophomore guard Quenton DeCosey contributed 12 points. For Penn sophomore center Darien Nelson-Henry scored a career-best 19 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Senior guard Miles Jackson-Cartwright added 12 points.
Penn made a run, Temple hung on.
“We got a lead, they made their run,” said Pepper. “We showed poise at the end and got the win.”
Big Five game number one is in the books. It gave us a glimpse into the future and a reminder of the past.
“This is an unbelievable arena,” Dunphy said. “I don’t think any place gets as loud as this. I thought it was fantastic. It’s a great win for us, a great win for our program.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian