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Penn senior guard Jeff Schiffner attempts to shoot the ball as Villanova sophomores Allan Ray and Chris Charles defend on the play. Schiffner was held to 13 points on 4-for-15 shooting from the field as the Wildcats topped the Quakers, 73-63.[Ryan Jones/T

The Villanova basketball team does this bizarre warmup drill before games. It's supposed to be a defensive slide drill, but the Wildcats end up looking like extras in Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video.

No matter what it looks like, though, the drill works.

The 'Cats stifled Penn's offense in the first half, took the lead with a 12-0 run midway through the first half and led 29-21 at the break en route to a 73-63 thrashing of Penn last night at the Palestra. The closest the Quakers got after halftime was five points.

'Nova's first-half run began when the Wildcats were down 12-9. Sophomore guard Allan Ray then scored eight straight points, including two three-pointers, and freshman Mike Nardi hit a jumper and a layup -- the latter coming off a fast break after stealing the ball from junior forward Eric Heil.

The Quakers (2-4, 0-2 Big 5) shot only 9-for-28 in the first half, and made only 2-of-12 three-pointers. Penn shot 22-for-57 (39 percent) from the field for the game and 5-for-20 (25 percent) from three-point range.

Penn swingman Jeff Schiffner shot 4-for-15 from the field, and 2-for-7 from beyond the arc. Wildcats guard Randy Foye guarded him most of the game.

"I knew we were doing good on 'D' because at halftime coach came in and talked straight about offense," Foye said.

Nardi led the way for the Wildcats (5-2, 3-0 Big 5) with 20 points -- 10 in each half. He punctuated the first half with a fast break three-point play with under a second left. His basket came after Schiffner missed an open three.

"That play at the end of the half was just a crushing play," Penn coach Fran Dunphy said. "The last two games, the last play of the half has really hurt us."

Ray had 13, sophomore forward Curtis Sumpter had 18 and Foye had 16 for the Wildcats.

Adam Chubb led the way for the Quakers with 17 points, nine of them free throws. Schiffner had 13. No other Penn player was in double figures.

"We got some open looks, I got some open looks, I just didn't take advantage of them," Schiffner said.

After going 11 deep in a 67-59 loss to No. 12 Saint Joseph's on Saturday, Dunphy didn't sub for almost the first 10 minutes last night.

Heil came in for Adam Chubb with 10:02 left in the first half and Penn down five, and Dunphy eventually went 10 deep. Dunphy said the short bench in the early going was not intentional.

"You just try to get a feel and try to go to [the bench] as best you can," he said. "I'd like to play as many guys as possible."

The one player who didn't get in who played against St. Joe's was junior Eric Osmundson. The 6'5" transfer guard from Utah is 1-for-15 from the floor so far this season and has only one assist.

"It wasn't his opportunity tonight," Dunphy said. "In 11 days we'll play Bucknell and he'll get his chance then."

Penn's two threes came in the first eight minutes, with Tim Begley hitting his only three with 12:04 left in the first half. Penn didn't hit another one until Jeff Schiffner scored from beyond the arc with 11:46 left in the second half.

The Quakers did make a late run in the second half, moving to a full-court press and closing it to five on a Copp layup with just over a minute to play. Heil had a steal and an emphatic block of Sumpter in the final minutes. A Chubb offensive foul with 57 seconds to play effectively ended any comeback chance for the Quakers.

The game was Villanova's second in four days at the Palestra. The Wildcats topped La Salle, 74-61, in the Big 5 Classic on Saturday.

Penn is now 0-2 in the Big 5. Villanova is already 3-0 and has clinched at least second place in the league. The 'Cats play Saint Joseph's on Feb. 2 in their final City Series contest.

News and Notes

Villanova's media relations department lists the series against the Quakers as 33-17 in favor of the Wildcats. Penn lists it as 32-18. The discrepancy is the 1970 East Regional Final: Villanova won, 90-47, but was stripped of all its wins that season for NCAA violations... Although the Wildcats have played seven games overall, two -- a 114-103 win at Division III Redlands and a 52-49 loss at Division II Chaminade -- do not count in the RPI or for postseason considerations.

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