In their only appearance this season at the historic Palestra, the 12th ranked Villanova Wildcats took on the Penn Quakers of the Ivy League in a Big 5 match up. Villanova, coached by Jay Wright, came into the game with a record of 6-1 overall, 1-0 in the Big 5. Penn, coached by Jerome Allen, entered the game with a record of 4-3, 0-0 in the Big 5.
Paced by the smoking hot hand of Senior Corey Stokes, the Wildcats beat the feisty Quakers 65-53.
Stokes shot a scintillating 11 of 15 from the field, including 5 of 9 from three-point range, and 7 of 8 from the free-throw line, for a career high of 34 points. His previous career high was 22. Stokes was aided by fellow Senior Antonio Pena who added 16 points and a game high 8 rebounds. The rest of the Wildcats only contributed a total of 15 points.
For the Cats, who raised their record to 7-1 overall, and 2-0 in the Big 5, it was either fire, in the form of Stokes and Pena (7 of 10 field goal attempts) or ice in the form of everyone else (a combined 4 of 20, including a frigid zero of 8 on three point attempts).
Corey Fisher, Villanova’s leading scorer coming into the game, did not start because of “a minor disciplinary issue”. Dominic Cheek started in his place. JayVaughn Pinkston, who will serve a suspension from Villanova University in the spring before rejoining the team in May, warmed up with the Wildcats before the game.
Villanova started quickly, but relinquished the lead at the 8:34 mark on a steal and lay in by Miles Cartwright which gave Penn its only lead of the night 17-16. The Wildcats regained the lead and never trailed again. The first half ended 30-23 in the Wildcats favor.
In the second half, the Wildcats, on a number of occasions, built a double digit lead as high as 13 points, only to see the Quakers narrow the margin with their scrappy play. Stokes stayed hot throughout the second-half, scoring 20 points to go along with his 14 first-half points.
Stokes passed the 1,000 point career scoring mark when he hit a three pointer to push the Wildcats to a 47-34 lead. Maalik Wayns, who hit his head on the floor in the first-half, did not play at all in the second-half for precautionary reasons.
For the Quakers who fell to 4-4 on the season, 0-1 in the Big 5, Zack Rosen led the way with 20 points and 5 assists. The only other Penn player in double figures was Jack Eggleston who added 12 points. Eggleston is now just five points away from reaching 1,000 for his career at Penn. This milestone will put him in very limited company.
Next up for Villanova is another Big 5 matchup against the La Salle Explorers at Tom Gola Arena on Sunday at 2PM. Penn next plays on December 22nd at Delaware. Villanova also faces Delaware on December 18th at the Wells Fargo Center.