Box Score (PDF)
PHILADELPHIA - Saturday night's Penn-Saint Joseph's game gave you all the trimmings of a Big 5 classic. The game was played in the Big 5's home, The Palestra, and the bitterly cold night brought a crowd of 8,051 that was in full throat most of the evening.
The action on the court did not leave them wanting. In a game that was tight almost the entire way, the Quakers locked down on defense and used an 11-3 run to pull away from the Hawks and gain a 73-61 victory.
The win was Penn's first against a Big 5 opponent in nearly four years -- the previous victory came January 24, 2007 against Temple -- and it snapped a five-game losing streak to SJU.
Tyler Bernardini was the offensive catalyst, scoring a career-high 27 points and constantly knocking down big shots. Zack Rosen overcame a bloody nose early in the game and finished with 17 points, while Miles Cartwright kept getting to the rim and had 11 points. At the other end, Jack Eggleston was a monster, collecting 14 of his career-best 15 rebounds on the defensive glass.
As a team, Penn shot a perfect 15-of-15 from the foul line in the game and came up with 10 steals defensively.
The first half was certainly a harbinger of the night, as neither team was able to gain a lead larger than four points and there were nine lead changes and three ties. The Quakers took a 30-28 lead into the break, thanks to Bernardini's 14 points.
The trading-basket trend continued much of the second half. Penn had a five-point lead after Miles Cartwright's traditional three-point play with 16:50 left, but SJU responded with a follow dunk by Ronald Roberts and a layup by Idris Hilliard. A few minutes later, Hilliard followed with yet another dunk on an offensive rebound and that gave Saint Joseph's what would be its only lead of the half, 42-41.
Enter Bernardini. He drained a three-pointer off an Eggleston feed, and then after Roberts tied it up with yet another putback layup Bernardini knocked down another trey. Penn never trailed again.
Saint Joseph's had a long drought without a field goal, nearly seven minutes from 11:29 to 4:39. However, the Hawks turned a five-point deficit (51-46) into a tie game at the foul line, all of them by Carl Jones.
Penn got back on track, thanks to - you guessed it - Bernardini. He hit his fifth three-pointer of the night, and then nearly two minutes later Conor Turley knocked down a pair of free throws to up Penn's lead to 56-51.
It was 60-56 after SJU's field-goal skein ended with Langston Galloway's jumper, but Fran Dougherty made a nice move on the block to score. Then, out of a timeout, Zack Rosen drained a three-point to give the Quakers their biggest lead of the night, 65-56.
Roberts got two of those points back, but Cartwright answered with a nice drive and bucket, and then Rosen hit a pair of foul shots to push Penn's advantage to double digits at 69-58 with 1:12 left. That pretty much ended it.
Roberts led SJU in scoring with 14 points and had eight rebounds. Hilliard had 13 points, Jones finished with 12 -- nine of them coming on free throws - and Daryus Quarles had 11.
Penn is back in action twice next weekend, tipping off Ivy League play with a pair of home games against Yale (Friday) and Brown (Saturday). Both of those games will tip off at 7 p.m.