From dawn to dusk: a day at the Palestra
With a Philly doubleheader and GameDay on tap, an in-depth look at Saturday’s action
January 21, 2014, 4:23 pm · Updated January 21, 2014, 8:39 pm·
Yuzhong Qian | DP
8:00 a.m. — The doors to the Palestra open. Soon afterward, buses from Temple and La Salle show up filled with students (some visibly drunk) ready to support their respective squads in the 12:00 game.
8:50 — A lot of people are showing up early to take a quick tour of the Palestra concourse filled with relics telling the history of this hallowed arena as well as positioning themselves behind the College Gameday set.
9:19 — Digger Phelps, a former assistant coach at Penn, is the first Gameday host to arrive and recounts some of his fondest memories from his tenure with the Red and Blue.
10:00 — La Salle grad Tim Legler reminisces about being back in the Palestra and some of his best memories of the arena.
“This was my home court for four years,” he said. “When you played a Big 5 game, it was always sold out.”
10:15 — Rumors start to circulate among reporters that students are planning to throw streamers on the court after the first basket in keeping the old tradition.
11:15 — The Temple-La Salle game has officially been sold out.
11:53 — The atmosphere around the arena just before tip-off is electric. Both student sections are trying to outdo each other with noise.
12:04 p.m. — A layup by La Salle’s Jerrell Wright opens up the scoring, but the streamer rumor proves untrue.
12:18 —The game stays very close, which keeps both crowds energized with cheering and rollouts.
12:44 — A 10-0 La Salle run right before the half puts them up by five at the break, 36-31. Neither team was able to build a lead larger than five points in the first period.
1:15 — An even scoring attack headed by Tyreek Duren, Tyrone Garland and Wright has allowed La Salle to build an 11-point lead midway through the second half.
1:17 — The student sections continue with their traditional rollouts while both teams have turned to getting offense from the paint. For the game, Temple had 42 points in the paint compared to La Salle’s 36.
1:52 — A late run by Temple has set this matinee up for an exciting finish. The whole stadium is rocking with anticipation as the clock winds down.
1:54 — Despite the Owls’ best efforts, La Salle pulls out the close victory, 74-68.
2:06 — Duren on his game-clinching free throw attempts: “I just wanted to make those free throws and get out of here.”
6:43 — Seventeen minutes before the tip sees the St. Joe’s student section filled to the top while Penn could barely muster more than 25 students.
“Rush events killed us today,” remarks one member of the Red and Blue Crew about the low turnout.
7:05 — Crowd noise is about even early on in the match despite the mismatch in crowd size.
7:33 — St. Joe’s is raining threes and quickly separating from Penn which prompts the Hawks fans’ rollout: “Stick to PhDs, not shooting threes.”
7:53 — By halftime St. Joe’s is up, 57-23, and has held the Red and Blue scoreless for the last six minutes of the half, save for a Tony Hicks trey right before the halftime horn.
7:55 — Alumni and students alike tour the Palestra concourse, trading stories about their favorite memories made in the arena.
“It’s the best place for college basketball in the country,” a 1981 alum from St. Joe’s who came to games as early as grade school said. “I wish they could’ve had this game [on ESPN, too].”
8:10 — St. Joe’s picks up right where it left off at half, continuing to punish the Quakers from downtown en route to opening up a 34-point lead that silences the Penn fans and gives even more life the St. Joe’s student section.
8:31 — Penn puts on its best rendition of Lob City while down by more than 35 points late in the second half with some thunderous dunks and alley-oops that wakes up the Penn student section despite the lopsided score.
8:47 — The horn sounds, and Penn falls to St. Joe’s, 85-68.
“St. Joe’s shot the hell out of the ball,” senior guard Miles Cartwright said. “They had a lot of open threes early, so they definitely got a rhythm, a lot of confidence.”