For those who have been long-time fans of Philadelphia college basketball, last Monday night at the Palestra may have been a blast from the past — a blast from 2018, to be exact.
Prior to Monday, Penn men’s basketball hadn’t beaten a nationally ranked opponent since 2018, when it stunned then-No. 17 Villanova in a closely fought 78-75 victory. The historic win marked the Red and Blue’s first over Villanova in 16 years and the Wildcats’ first Big 5 loss in six. In an early-week triumph eerily similar to that of 2018, the Quakers pulled off another historic upset against their now-City 6 rival.
In front of a packed Palestra crowd, the sluggish start to Monday’s matchup made the game initially appear as a low-scoring affair between two top-tier defenses. But after halftime, the Red and Blue’s true offensive colors started flying.
With the minutes before the final buzzer winding down and the Quakers still holding on to their slim advantage, a revamped buzz emanated through the Palestra. Freshman guard Tyler Perkins kept raining in points, and junior forward/center Nick Spinoso stepped up on defense. With each Quaker three-pointer drained and with each missed Wildcat shot, more and more Quaker fans got up on their feet. Chirps from the crowd intensified, and yelling from the sidelines grew frantic.
As the final seconds ticked by, the aisles flooded with Penn students. At the sound of the final buzzer, which locked in the Quakers’ 76-72 win, fans rejoiced with streamers in one hand and phones recording history in the other. They rapidly stormed the court to celebrate with an already embracing team and join them in the singing of the Red and Blue as coach Steve Donahue stood up on the bleachers, soaking the moment in.
Though Ivy Madness is still three months away and March even further, Red and Blue celebrations started Monday, and fans partied like it was 2018.