Wednesday night will be remembered as a special night in the Big 5, which is a compilation of college basketball programs in Philadelphia that includes Villanova, Temple, St. Joseph’s, La Salle, and Penn. The Big 5 is centered around the rivalries of the schools involved and the games played between the respective schools, but last night was a night of national prominence for the regional Big 5. One could go as far to say that last night was the most successful night collectively for the Big 5 in recent years.
Temple hosted Duke at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia in what has become a semi-regular non-conference matchup in the past few years. Temple sold out the 18,000 seat arena and brought a great atmosphere to this game. Duke was ranked #3 in the country, and only had 1 loss entering the game, which was to #2 Ohio State. However, Temple outplayed the Blue Devils last night from the opening tip to the closing whistle, and even took an 11 point lead with 3 minutes remaining in the game. The Owls took a big non-conference win for the second time this season with a 78-73 win, and now enter Atlantic 10 play with a lot of momentum.
While Temple was beating Duke in South Philadelphia, La Salle was beating up on Xavier in the Northeast. Xavier was undefeated for much of the season, until a brawl in the Cincinnati game took out many of its key players. Since then, Xavier had lost 4 of 5 games entering Wednesday night’s game. However, with leading scorer and national phenom Tu Holloway returning to the lineup, the Musketeers had no excuse not to play well. La Salle simply outplayed Atlantic 10 powerhouse and nationally recognizable Xavier at Tom Gola Arena, and at multiple points took a 15 point lead on the Musketeers. La Salle is 11-4 on the season, and now has its first high-profile win of the season.
St. Joseph’s didn’t miss out on an opportunity to have a flair for the dramatic, either. The Hawks traveled to Pittsburgh to play Duquesne in the team’s first A-10 game of the season. St. Joseph’s erased a 15 point halftime deficit to tie the game at 78 entering overtime. CJ Aiken scored the game winning basket to give St. Joe’s a 84-82 win and a 1-0 start to A-10 play.
The Penn Quakers traveled to Lafayette to play the Leopards in one of the final non-conference games before Ivy League Play. The Quakers were led by Zack Rosen, who scored 24 points in a 78-73 win. The Quakers will host La Salle in the team’s final Big 5 game and final non-conference game of the season.
Also, Drexel, a member of the “City 6,” as it is sometimes called, won in blowout fashion against Towson. The Dragons held Towson to just 27 points, which was good for the lowest point total ever allowed in a CAA game. In addition, with the loss Towson tied Sacramento State for the longest losing streak in Division 1 history, with 34 consecutive losses.
Villanova, the one Big 5 team not mentioned yet, did not play last night. The Wildcats will host South Florida tonight at 8PM in the team’s Big East home opener.
Last night was a historic night for the Big 5 (and the City 6, including Drexel). These teams collectively defeated two national powerhouses, won an overtime conference game, and was on the winning end of a record setting 34th consecutive loss for Towson. The Philadelphia schools combined to go 5-0 last night, and brought some much needed and always appreciated attention to Philadelphia college basketball.