Villanova vs. Penn Recap | The Quakers shock the Wildcats at The Palestra
Written by David Szczepanski on November 14, 2023
Penn shocks #21 Villanova, 76-72, at the historic Palestra in University City. Villanova had won 18 of their last 19 games against Penn. The Wildcats led the all-time series, 50-19. But in matchup number 70 between Philly foes, Penn’s Tyler Perkins excelled to lead the Quakers to victory. Perkins scored 22 points with six rebounds. In a season where the Quakers have struggled from the charity stripe, Perkins made 9 of his 12 from the line.
Villanova’s leading scorer was Justin Moore. Moore’s aggressiveness to shoot the three hurt Villanova in this game, but he provided some hope for Nova Nation in the final minutes. Moore finished with 25 points, seven rebounds, and three assists.
The other major positive for Villanova was Jordan Longino. Longino really found his stride against Penn by scoring 14 points on 4-8 from the field. He also played really good defense to help limit Penn’s leading scorer, Clark Slajchert, to just 11 points and 0-4 from three.
For the third straight game, the Wildcats lacked offense in the first half. It took both teams about 2 minutes to get on the scoreboard. An Eric Dixon three gave the Wildcats their first lead of the evening, 3-0. However, unfortunately for the Wildcats, they lost the lead quickly and never really gained it back for a long period of time.
Tyler Perkins scored four quick points around the 16-minute mark to give Penn the 7-3 lead. Perkins and Nick Spinoso both scored for Penn while the Wildcats struggled to score. In a low scoring first half, Jordan Longino made his free throw to complete a three-point play and cut the deficit for Nova to just one point with eight minutes left in the first.
Both teams finally found some offensive momentum in the last five minutes of the first half. The Wildcats took a quick one-point lead after a Justin Moore layup with 49 seconds left. Unfortunately for Villanova, Perkins hit both free throws and Slajchert converted a driving layup to give the Quakers a 32-30 lead at halftime.
At the half, Penn’s Perkins led all scorers with 13 points. He also had four rebounds in the first half. Jordan Longino played 14 minutes in the first half and led the Wildcats with ten points. Justin Moore also had a strong first with 8 points, two rebounds, and two assists. Eric Dixon, TJ Bamba, and Tyler Burton were held to just nine combined points in the first half.
The Quakers did not go away in the second half. With 7:36 left in the game, Penn extended their lead to nine points after a Cam Thrower three-pointer. The Wildcats cut the deficit to just three points with six minutes left to go. A lot of Villanova fans and students made their way to The Palestra last night and they were given something to cheer about with six minutes left.
However, Penn went on a quick 8-0 run over two minutes capped by a Tyler Perkins deep three. The Quakers led by 11 points with just four minutes left to play. The threat of an upset was in everyone’s mind, but this three by Perkins really electrified the Quakers’ fans.
With little time left on the clock, Villanova was forced to play the foul game and send Penn to the free throw line. The Quakers struggle at the charity stripe, but Villanova’s run was just a little bit too late. Justin Moore’s three-point shooting finally came alive in the last two minutes, but the closest the Cats would get late in this one was a two-point deficit with four seconds left. Slajchert made both free throws to secure the victory for Penn and eventually lead to a storming of the court by Penn’s fans.
Villanova only made 34.9% of their shots from the field. The Wildcats also struggled from three by making just 27% of their shots from behind the arc.
Penn finished with a 51% shooting percentage from the field and 41% from three. The Quakers missed 13 of their 34 free throws on the evening. Penn’s poor free throw shooting allowed the Wildcats to stay relatively close in this game.
Coach Neptune and Justin Moore credited Tyler Perkins and the Penn Quakers. Neptune: “We knew he was a good player; we knew what he can do. He played really well tonight.” Moore added, “He is going to be a real good player in this league.”
In terms of Neptune’s post game message, he said, “Just have to get better.”
The Wildcats are now 0-1 in Big 5 Games. Villanova plays St. Joe’s on November 29th at 6:30pm for their next Big 5 matchup.
WXVU Coverage + Bounce Back Opportunity for Villanova
Villanova plays Maryland on Friday at 8:30pm. WXVU will have live coverage from the Finn beginning at 8pm with the pregame show. Steve and I will also recap this tough loss to Penn and look ahead to Maryland on Thursday on “Villanova Sports Talk.” Villanova Sports Talk begins at 11:30am as we will have a full hour of coverage for you on Thursday.