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Penn upsets No. 21 Villanova to ignite chaos in Big 5

Let the new Big 5 format commence!

NCAA Basketball: Pennsylvania at West Virginia
Despite being picked just fifth in the Ivy League’s Preseason Poll, Steven Donahue and Clark Slajchert just led an upset of No. 21 Villanova.
Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Pennsylvania downed No. 21 Villanova in a 76-72 upset Monday night at the Palestra in a Big 5 showdown. It’s the Quakers’ first win over the Wildcats since 2018.

In what was a tight contest throughout, Penn jumped out to a 7-3 lead by the first media timeout but the Wildcats quickly stormed back and tied things 24-24 by the four minute mark.

Kyle Neptune’s squad grabbed a 30-28 lead late into the first half but as the Quakers climbed back to close out the half, it would signal Villanova’s last lead of the night.

Ultimately, halftime saw a slight 32-30 advantage in favor of Penn with Villanova’s TJ Bamba struggling in foul trouble and the Wildcats shooting just 27% from deep.

That streaky shooting from Villanova continued into the second half as Penn fought to a 39-34 lead coming out of the locker room at halftime. The Wildcats soon cut that deficit to with one at 39-38.

Forward Nick Spinoso, who contributed 10 points and anchored the Quakers defense all night, picked up his fourth foul midway into the second half giving Villanova hope.

The Port Washington, N.Y., native expertly navigated the paint and continuously handled the Wildcats attack to shut down their offense and finish out the game with just those four fouls.

With Villanova continuing to shoot the ball so poorly from 3-point range, the Quakers maintained their edge and drove out to an 11 point lead with four minutes remaining.

The Wildcats eventually cut that lead to 74-72 in the closing seconds behind a Justin Moore three, but a pair of clutch free throws from senior guard Clark Slajchert sealed it as Penn picked up the win.

While Villanova finished the night 9-for-33 shooting from behind the arc, the Quakers were led by freshman phenom Tyler Perkins with 22 points and six rebounds, as all five starters scored in double digits.

Following a 69-61 Penn loss to Saint Joseph at the weekend, the road to the new Big 5 Classic has already been paved with chaos. With The Cathedral of College Basketball filled to the brim for tonight’s upset, Donahue and Co. will be ready at Wells Fargo Center come Dec. 2.