Top 10 Penn-Villanova basketball games of all time
A closer look at a classic Big 5 rivalry's best games
December 2, 2013, 10:30 pm · Updated December 3, 2013, 3:20 am·
DP File Photos | DP
10. March 20, 1971 – Villanova 90, Penn 47
The ‘Cats and the Quakers’ second 1971 meeting came in the Elite Eight. The third-ranked Quakers, who had not lost all season, were in for a rude awakening in Raleigh, N.C. The rout was on from the beginning, as Villanova jumped out to a 9-1 lead early and led 43-22 at the break. The ‘Cats refused to slow down after the intermission, scoring the first 16 points of the second half en route to a 90-47 drubbing. Villanova shot a remarkable 61.7 percent from the field while not a single Penn player reached double-digit points. Villanova went on to lose to UCLA in the national championship game.
9. February 10, 1987 – Villanova 71, Penn 60
Penn, led by Perry Bromwell , could not cling to a second half lead and ultimately fell by double digits to Villanova. Penn led by seven at the break, and an authoritative Bromwell steal and slam made the score 43-34 in Penn’s favor early in the second half. The Red and Blue were working with a 46-40 lead with 15 minutes left, but the Wildcats scored the next 10 points to take the lead. The Quakers crept back to get within five with two minutes to go, but the ‘Cats stepped up at the free throw line late to hold the Quakers off and win 71-60.
8. December 2, 2006 – Villanova 99, Penn 89
Despite an outstanding performance from Mark Zoller and a second half surge from the Quakers, Villanova was able to hold off the Red and Blue at the Palestra. Penn trailed 47-40 at the half and 68-61 midway through the second half before the Quakers went on a run keyed by Zoller and Brian Grandieri , who put the Red and Blue up 72-70 with 9:36 to play. Villanova quickly responded with a Scottie Reynolds trey, however, and would lead for the remainder of the contest. Zoller led the Quakers with a career-high 33 points.
7. December 11, 1982 – Penn 84, Villanova 80
A lopsided matchup on paper ended up in a shocking upset at the Palestra. 10th-ranked Villanova, which had beaten Penn in its previous seven matchups, could not overcome a Penn offensive barrage that featured career-highs in scoring from Paul Little (23) and Avery Rawlings (16) . Although the game remained close throughout, ‘Nova never led after the middle of the first half. Quakers reserve guard Anthony Arnolie hit 10 straight free throws in the final 2:29 to seal the deal for the Red and Blue.
6. January 23, 1971 – Penn 78, Villanova 70
The buildup this Palestra showdown saw was significant, as both teams were highly ranked entering the matchup. The Quakers were ranked fourth in the nation with a 14-0 record, while the Wildcats marched in ranked 14th, with a record of 14-3. Big 5 Hall of Famer Bob Morse got in foul trouble early, and the Quakers trailed at the half. After falling behind 44-36 in the second half, the Red and Blue came roaring back, getting a string of stops and rattling three straight buckets to cut the Villanova lead to 47-46. Morse, who rebounded to score 15 second half points, put the Quakers ahead for good with 13:30 left, preserving the Red and Blue’s undefeated record.
5. February 22, 1995 – Villanova 78, Penn 74
While Penn found the highlight reel, the Red and Blue could not finalize a comeback against No. 9 Villanova at DuPont Pavillion. The Quakers embarked on a 12-4 run after trailing 50-41 at the half. The surge was capped off by an electrifying alley-oop from Matt Maloney to Jerome Allen , which cut the Wildcats’ lead to one. Villanova led by one again late in the game , when Maloney hit his sixth three to make the score 75-74 in the final minute. After Eric Eberz of Villanova extended the ‘Cats’ lead to three, Allen’s last-ditch trey attempt rimmed out, allowing Villanova to escape with the win.
4. January 15, 1969 – Penn 32, Villanova 30
In a historically-low scoring game, Steve Bilsky proved to be the hero for the Quakers in an upset over the Wildcats. The Red and Blue chose to keep the ball out of the hands of the Villanova offense, and patiently picked apart the Wildcats’ tight zone defense by holding the ball for a large portion of the game. The crucial sequence came when Penn held the ball for the final 3:35 with the game tied, a possession that culminated in a game-winning Steve Bilsky jumper with three seconds remaining. Bilsky led all scorers with 10 points.
3. December 5, 2001 – Penn 75, Villanova 74 (OT)
The Quakers needed a comeback and some extra time to triumph in this Big 5 showdown. After trailing by 10 at the half, Quakers guard Andy Toole — who played with a stress fracture in his right foot — led the Penn rally with 21 points, extending the game to overtime. Toole came up big once again in the extra session, sinking a pair of free throws with 12 seconds left to give Penn a 75-74 lead. The slim advantage would hold, as Penn forward Ugonna Onyekwe deflected the ‘Cats’ final shot as time expired.
2. December 6, 1988 – Penn 71, Villanova 70
In front of a packed Palestra, the middling Quakers looked to upstage the No. 17 Wildcats in a classic Big 5 duel. In a back and forth battle that featured a career-high 32 point performance from 7’3” ‘Nova center Tom Greis , the Quakers found a way to come out on top down the stretch. The key play came from Penn forward Jose Tavarez , who converted on a follow in the final minute to give the Quakers a 67-65 lead which they would not surrender.
1. January 9, 2000 – Villanova 67, Penn 65
A sold out Palestra was treated to a tense Big 5 battle that featured big shots and went down to the wire. With 3:55 left in the contest, and Penn trailing 61-51, Michael Jordan single-handedly mounted an 11-4 Penn run to cut the Wildcats’ lead to 65-52 with under a minute remaining. Penn’s Matt Langel then hit a three with 14 seconds left to knot the game up, but ‘Nova had an answer. Malik Allen’s short baseline jumper that dropped in with 0.8 seconds left gave the Wildcats the edge.