With 4:46 remaining in last night's Big 5 contest between Penn and Villanova, almost all 12,058 people in the First Union Center were on their feet. This was not because the Wildcats (13-8, 4-0 Big 5) were leading the game by 20 points at the time, en route to an 80-51 victory over the Penn men's basketball team (7-12, 0-4). It was because Gary Buchanan was about to step to the line to make NCAA history. The Villanova sophomore guard sunk 63 consecutive free throws entering last night's contest, and he needed two more to break the NCAA Division I record for consecutive free throws made. The previous record of 64 was set by Western Illinois' Joe Dykstra in 1981-82. Penn freshman Jeff Schiffner got called for a reach-in foul in the Villanova backcourt giving Buchanan his chance at the record books. The free-throw wizard seized the opportunity and in a matter-of-fact fashion sunk both shots from the charity stripe. "It's not like those two were clangers," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "They went dead in the hoop, which is really impressive." Buchanan's perfection from the line led to more applause from the crowd and upped Villanova's lead to 71-49. "I know we were down a lot of points, and we needed for him not to make them, but I would have felt bad for him if he had not made them," Dunphy said. "I was really happy that he made those two free throws." In the big picture, those free throws had no impact on the outcome of the game, but now Buchanan owns a place in the NCAA Division I record book with 65 consecutive successful free throws and counting. "I wasn't worried about the record," Buchanan said. "I just wanted to come out and win." In addition to winning their 13th game of the season, the Wildcats won the Big 5 title and became the fourth team in Villanova history to post a perfect 4-0 record in the Big 5. For the Wildcats, their fourth Big 5 win of the season proved to be their easiest. Eight minutes into the game, Villanova already led by 13 points. The Red and Blue cut the lead to seven, but Villanova senior guard Jermaine Medley sunk a three that gave the Wildcats a double-digit lead. The Quakers would never come within 10 again. Medley finished the game with a career-high 22 points and shot an impressive 5-of-6 from behind the three-point arc. "We talked about that before the game -- Medley being a streak shooter," Dunphy said. "If he gets off a little bit, he can go for four or five threes, and that's obviously what he did tonight." In addition to the three-pointer that gave Villanova a 10-point lead early, Medley hit two timely treys in the second half. His first three after the intermission capped off an 8-0 Wildcats run to start the second session and give Villanova its first 20-point lead of the game. Less than two minutes later, he answered a three by Penn's Lamar Plummer with a 23-foot jumper of his own. Two other members of Villanova's starting five helped steer the Wildcats to victory -- sophomore forward Ricky Wright and junior center Michael Bradley. Bradley was second on the Wildcats in scoring and rebounding with 21 points. He made 7-of-9 baskets from the floor and raised his NCAA-leading field goal percentage to .698. Villanova's biggest force on the glass last night was Wright, who grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds. He also added 13 points to record the game's only double-double. Overall, rebounding was one area that the Wildcats dominated, outrebounding the Quakers, 43-27. The rebounding was most lopsided in the first half when the Quakers grabbed only 11 rebounds in 20 minutes, while the Wildcats grabbed 10 offensive boards alone in that half. Penn's woes also stemmed from its inability to score on the offensive end. Collectively, the Quakers shot 35.1 percent from the floor and a measley 28.0 percent from behind the arc. Penn point guard David Klatsky was one of the few bright spots for the Quakers, as he nailed 3-of-4 from downtown. Plummer, along with forward Ugonna Onyekwe, led Penn with 12 points each. Center Geoff Owens grabbed the most boards for the Quakers with seven, and recorded four blocks and two steals. But Owens and the Quakers were still scorched by Villanova's stellar offensive attack. The drubbing did, however, allow Dunphy to use much of the second half to give some players off the bench a chance to play against tough competition. That, in turn, indirectly made Schiffner the answer to a future NCAA trivia question: who fouled Gary Buchanan when he broke the record for consecutive free throws made in NCAA Division I history?Comments powered by Disqus
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