PHILADELPHIA, PA. 1/20/2018 – There is nothing like this. A bit of nostalgia as the University of Pennsylvania hosted a Big Five game against the Temple Owls at the Palestra on a Saturday afternoon in front of an appreciative crowd of 7,233 filling the building. It wasn’t pretty, but then again, it is not supposed to be. This is supposed to be about grit and determination. Who hits a key shot? Who answers? Who dives for a steal or save? Who? Both teams had it. In the end Temple put together a 12 – 0 after falling behind to earn a 60 – 51 victory.
“I’m from Philadelphia and have come to Big Five games here,” said Temple guard Shizz Alston, Jr. “Every time there is a game here something special happens. This was no different. Big games, big shots, the atmosphere was great.”
The Quakers came back and behind back to back three-pointers by Caleb Wood and AJ Brodeur took a 51 – 48 lead with 4:02 on the clock. Grit.
The Owls had their turn to show it.
“Grit is a measurable topic,” said Dunphy. “I thought we showed some great grit coming down the stretch.”
Alston made a big three-pointer to tie it. Freshman forward J.P. Moorman II hit a short jumper, two of the biggest points of his young collegiate career to put the Cherry and White back in front 53 – 51 with 2:32 left. After some back and forth a big play of the game came when Wood hit a three, but the play was negated by an offensive foul on Brodeur. Owls guard Josh Brown hit one from beyond the on the right wing with 46 seconds to go. Temple closed the game with 4 free throws.
“We talk about the momentum of games,” said Temple Coach Fran Dunphy. “We went down three and Shizz made a huge three at the top of the key. J.P. Moorman made a jumper, then Brown made his three. Overall, we did what we needed to do.”
Penn did not score after taking the lead.
“We were not as poised as we needed to be, but I was very proud of our toughness,” said Penn Coach Steve Donahue. “We just did not get enough to go in the basket.”
Obi Enechionyia lead all scorers with 15 points and grabbed a team-best 9 rebounds. Ten of his points came in the second half. For the game the senior forward made 4 of 9 form the floor and 2 of 3 from distance.
“My shot was just falling and guys were finding me in open spots,” Enechionyia said. “My job is to shoot it, and get to open spots. It felt good.”
Alston, Jr. added 14 points. Moorman II scored 4 points and had a career-high tying 7 rebounds in a career-mark 26 minutes.
Brodeur and Ryan Betley headed Penn with 12 points apiece. Wood scored 10 points. Center Max Rothschild had a game-high 13 rebounds, 6 offensive, 7 defensive.
Another Big Five game for the books and for the memory bank. Next week Saint Joseph’s comes to visit city rival Penn. Should be special.
“To prepare of these two teams it helps us get better for the Ivy League,” Donahue said. “It was a great crowd. It is why the Big Five is special. It does help us get better for the Ivy League.”
“It’s still a special place,” Dunphy said about the Palestra. “You can change the lighting, the floor, or whatever you want to change, it is always going to be the Palestra. A spectacular place.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian