PHILADELPHIA - Fran Dunphy is a Philadelphia guy -- played his high school ball at Malvern Prep, went on to a college career at La Salle, and for the last 17 years he has been the head coach of the University of Pennsylvania men's basketball team.
Wednesday night, he got his 300th win as the Quakers' mentor, and it came in just the kind of game he loves to talk about when he talks about Philly hoops.
In front of a typically loud crowd at The Palestra, Penn knocked off La Salle -- yup, Dunphy's alma mater --73-65 in a Big 5 matchup that had all the ebb and flow of a game between two teams looking to establish bragging rights for a year.
"It feels good to get it over with, to be honest," he said afterward. "It feels great to get a win, to win a Big 5 game this year."
Penn (10-5) -- which won for the fourth straight game and the seventh time in the last eight outings -- was led by junior forward Mark Zoller, who drained a career-high 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the floor, including a 4-of-6 performance from beyond the arc. Eric Osmundson knocked down four treys of his own en route to 17 points, while Steve Danley matched a season high with 14 points and also came up with five rebounds and five assists.
"(Zoller) made a couple of huge threes from the top of the key," said Dunphy."He's a great competitor, one of the hardest competitors I've ever had here."
Ibrahim Jaaber? Well, offensively he was held to his season low, collecting just 10 points. However,at the defensive end hecame up with five steals,giving him 167 for his career and making him the program's all-time leader in that category -- as a junior.
As a team, Penn shot just 40 percent from the field, but valued the basketball and committed just nine turnovers (compared to La Salle's 20 turnovers, which offset the Explorers' 50-percent shooting).
La Salle (10-7)was led by Steven Smith, who poured in 23 points but fouled out with 1:15 left in the game and nearly had a costly technical foul after that. Darnell Harris had 14 points for the Explorers, while Jermaine Thomas had 10 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Penn is back in action Saturday night, taking on Saint Joseph's in another Big 5 contest that has been sold out for weeks. Tip time is 7 p.m., and the game will air live on CN8 from The Palestra.