Villanova, defending national champions, winners of 2 of the last 3 national championships, and winners of 25 straight Big 5 games came into their matchup at the famed Palestra ranked 14th in the country…what they left with was a 78-75 loss to the Penn Quakers.
It had been recent domination by Villanova in the city of Philadelphia. The 25-game win streak over Big 5 opponents (Temple, Saint Joe’s, La Salle, Penn, Villanova) by the Wildcats was a Big 5 city record. The last time they had lost to a team from Philadelphia was December 5, 2012, to Temple.
There is no doubt that this is not the same Villanova team that won 2 of the last 3 National Champions, but they are still loaded with plenty of young talent. While the win is an upset, it definitely is not a fluke. Penn is a quality basketball that executed a great game plan that incorporated tough gritty defense and controlling the glass. The win moves Penn to 9-2 on the season.
Coach Steve Donahue and Quaker program have been building towards this. Donahue, a former coach of Cornell and Boston College, took over the Penn Quakers 3 years ago. He led them to 11 and 13 wins in his first 2 seasons before guiding them to 24 wins and an NCAA Tournament bid, their first since 2007. The win over Villanova was Penn’s fifth in a row and gives Penn its 2nd win over a Power 5 team.