By Michael Bennett
Saddiq Bey scored a career-high 27 points to lead No. 23 Villanova to an 80-69 victory over Penn.
The Wildcats (6-2) pulled away to avoid a second straight loss to their Big 5 rivals. Justin Moore’s three-point play nailed it as the Cats held off visiting pesky Penn (5-4).
Jordan Dingle and AJ Brodeur each scored 18 points for Penn. Moore finished with 17 for the Wildcats.
The Quakers pulled off one of the biggest upsets last season when they knocked off the national champion Wildcats 78-75 at the Palestra. The Wildcats had won a city-record 25 straight games against Big 5 rivals Temple, Saint Joseph’s, La Salle and the Quakers. Penn would win the Big 5 title but not the Ivy League crown that could have sent it back to the NCAA Tournament.
The Quakers forced the game into the paint and kept the Wildcats from relying on the 3 to put them away. Brodeur scored 12 points and the Quakers had the game tied at 30-all late in the first half.
Jermaine Samuels’ monster block on Devon Goodman’s fast-break was followed by Bey’s jam on the other end that brought the fans to their feet. The dunk gave Bey 23 points, one better than his career high set earlier this season against Army.
Goodman buried a 3 and quickly dunked off his own steal to bring the 11 1/2-point underdog Quakers within four midway through the second half. Dingle hit a 3 to make it a one-point game.
The Quakers made it 48-47 and kept driving inside to keep the deficit within single digits and Dingle got a rise out of the Penn bench on a two-handed dunk. Try as they might, the Quakers couldn’t stop Bey and couldn’t go on enough of a run to ever take the lead. Goodman hit Penn’s seventh 3 to make it 68-64 with Bey on the bench with four fouls.
The Wildcats held Penn to only five points over the final 4 minutes to hang on for the tougher-than-necessary victory. Bey was 10 of 18 overall with six rebounds.