VILLANOVA, Pa. - There was no sugarcoating Saturday night’s game between Penn and Villanova. One team was simply superior to the other.
Unfortunately for Penn fans, the superior team was the homestanding Wildcats -- not surprising, given their No. 21 national ranking in the ESPN/USA Today media poll.They jumped out to a gigantic early lead on the Quakers and made the second half a foregone conclusion in winning 87-61.
Playing in front of a sold-out crowd of 6,500 at the Pavilion, Villanova (5-1) was up 9-2 after just 2:15, expanded it to 21-4 before the game was six minutes old, and blew it out to 33-6 after less than nine minutes.
At halftime, the score was 53-22.
Penn (2-6) came back in the second half and outscored the Cats, 34-29. Tyler Bernardini led the second-half charge, scoring 16 of his 21 points and knocking down four three-pointers in the second stanza. His point total tied for game-high honors with Villanova’s sophomore guard, Scottie Reynolds.
Sophomore Justin Reilly, who got his second-consecutive start, had 12 points on the night, while freshman Harrison Gaines had 10 points and five assists in 23 minutes of action.
After Reynolds-- who also had five assists and two steals-- Villanova got 13 points from Corey Fisher, 12 from Antonio Pena, and 10 from Dante Cunningham. Fisher also had four assists and four steals, as the Wildcats gained 14 thefts on the night.
Villanova’s win was its 12th in a row in Philadelphia Big 5 play; that ties the record for most consecutive Big 5 wins, set originally by Penn from 1972-75.
There is no letup in the Penn schedule, unfortunately. On Tuesday night, No. 1 North Carolina comes to town to meet the Quakers in the fabled Palestra. Tip time is set for 7 p.m., and the game will be televised live to a nationwide audience on ESPN2.