Big Five Tripleheader – A Day to Remember for Philly College Basketball

We Saw and Upset, An Overtime Buzzer Beater, and a Champion Decided

December 2, 2023 –

Three Big Five games in a single day, single venue. It started with a thriller and ended with Saint Joseph’s winning the inaugural MHS Lift Big Five Classic Championship. There can be a tripleheader since Drexel is invited to the party now. And the Dragons made their presence felt to begin the festivities and ended with the Hawks bringing home the honor. With an overtime thriller in between. Let’s look at the details.

Drexel Dragons 57 Villanova Wildcats 55

The first Big Five game for Drexel, and they experienced Big Five drama leading the whole game, then holding off Villanova at the end. The contest came down to the last possession. The Dragons led by two after a free throw by Amari Williams with 31.3 seconds to play. The Wildcats had the last chance. Justin Moore took the ball to the basket. The clock counted down. Moore went up with 3 seconds remaining. Williams got in position and blocked the shot. The horn sounded and Drexel had their first win in the Big Five. And an upset over #18 Villanova.

“I knew they were going to try to get in the post,” Williams said about the last play. “It seemed like he tried to draw a foul. Discipline, staying down, my hands up so it’s easy to get out there.”

Villanova lost all of their Big Five games this season. The Cats have defeated Texas Tach, North Carolina, Maryland, and Memphis. But those games were not against the local competition.

“Those games (Big Five) are very intense, tough, and throw out the records for whoever is playing in these games,” Villanova Coach Kyle Neptune said. “You know they’re bringing it. This year was no different.”


Williams led Drexel with 12 points and 6 rebounds. Eric Dixon had a game-high 21 points. The Dragons had 12 turnover to 6 for the Wildcats. Villanova made 33% from the floor and just 19% from three-point land. Drexel made 49% of their shots and half of their three-pointers. It has been difficult for the Cats to make baskets and limit the made shots by their Philly brethren.

Bottom Line

It is a big day for Drexel basketball and Drexel athletics. And Coach Zach Spiker would reference those players who never had this chance, and what it means to them. And to the present team.

“I couldn’t be more proud of them and their approach today,” Spiker said. “We weren’t worried at all. We talk a lot about gratitude, respect and compete. Today was all respect all, fear none.”

So to those who may have questioned, does Drexel belong? Today, the Dragons proved, they do.

La Salle Explorers 93 Penn Quakers 92 in Overtime

More magic as the La Salle Explorers tied the game with 1:33 in regulation, then scored the winning basket in overtime at the buzzer on a shot just over half court by Khalil Brantley.

“I’m a little fast,” Brantley said about taking the game-winning shot. “Once I got to half court I was like I gotta put it up.”

It may not have happened, but Penn missed three chances in the last 6 seconds of regulation.

It was a whirlwind few days for the Explorers who had a chance to play in the championship game, but lost to Temple in triple overtime. And coach Fran Dunphy had back-to-back games against three teams in which he has been associated.

“You couldn’t make this up,” said Dunphy. “Two teams that I was so closely associated with on Wednesday and Saturday and two overtime games. There was a stretch in the second half that I said to myself, I’m not sure how this game is going to end, but I feel good. I think our team is arriving.”


Brantley scored a team-high 24 points. Daeshon Shepherd added 19. Four other Explorers reached double-figures.

For the Quakers Clark Slajchert contributed a career-high tying 33 points. Tyler Perkins added 20. Nick Spinoso scored 17 points while taking down 8 rebounds and handing out 8 assists.

Both teams shot above 50%. La Salle was at 55%, Penn 54%. The rebounding, turnovers, and other statistical categories were close.

“For the fans it was a fun 45 minutes,” said Penn Coach Steve Donahue. “For coaches, for one of us, agonizing. Both teams play in the spirit of what the Big Five is all about.”

Big Five Classic Championship

Saint Joseph’s Hawks 74 Temple Owls 65

The title game and the wrap up to the day’s festivities. This is the 21st time that Saint Joe’s has won the city. They got to this game with a win over Villanova, their first win since 2011, on Wednesday. Temple got here by defeating La Salle in triple overtime the same night. So, tip the ball and play it out.

Saint Joseph’s lead from start to finish in winning. The largest lead was 40 – 25 early in the second half. Temple mounted a comeback getting to within 40 – 36 when 14:33 showed on the clock. But the Owls got no closer. The Hawks see their school name on the Championship Banner.

“It was truly a blessing to be able to win something with my brothers,” said Saint Joseph’s guard Lynn Greer III. “We work very hard every day, stuff people don’t see every day. It was really a blessing. I think we’re very happy, but we’ve got a lot more games to go.”

Quite a meaningful accomplishment for SJU as eight members of the team are local players.

“I said it before the game and I say it again, this is in my opinion a God appointed moment,” said Saint Joseph’s Coach Billy Lange. “To have the amount of Philadelphia kids that we have on our team, to have guys from South Jersey on our team, to see people like Cam Brown, Kacper, and Erik Reynolds who have been here. Chris Arizin, Brian Geatens, Cooper Vogel just to be a part of this. This was an appointed and anointed time. Our season is not over. So we’ve got to get some rest and get back to work on Monday.


Rasheer Fleming from Camden, NJ scored a game and career-high 22 points. He also had a game-high tying 9 rebounds to go along with 3 assists. Philadelphian Lynn Greer added 14 points. Local product Xzavier Brown scored 5 points, and contributed 7 rebounds and a game-high tying 5 assists. Erik Reynolds II and Cameron Brown scored in double figures.

Zion Stanford and Jordan Riley set career-marks in scoring and rebounds for Temple. Stanford from Philadelphia scored 19 points and took down 9 caroms. Riley had a team-best 20 points and 8 boards.

Temple made 23 of 65 shots (35.4%) and 7 of 26 three-pointers. In the first half the Owls went 8 for 30 (27%) from the floor. Saint Joe’s made 24 of 52 (46.2%) and 8 of 21 from distance.

Temple finishes second in the tournament.

“This week was exciting,” said Temple Coach Adam Fisher. “The games on Wednesday night and then you have it now, it’s a little bit like the in season tournament the NBA is going through. I thought it was exciting for our guys this week.”

Big Five Hall of Fame Inductions

The newest Big Five Class was introduced at halftime of the title game. The inductees include; Mike Kern and Dick Jerardi from the Daily News, Fran O’Hanlon of Villanova, Tyreek Duren from La Salle, Dionne Anthon from Penn, Larry Dougherty of Saint Joseph’s and Temple, and representing Saint Joseph’s Deandre’ Bembry.

The official attendance for the day totaled 15, 215.

Written By: Glenn Papazian


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