PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Daniel Ochefu had 21 points and 10 rebounds to help No. 5 Villanova pull away late and beat pesky Penn 62-47 on Saturday night.
The Wildcats (17-1) took a breather from Big East play to play their final game of the season in Philadelphia’s city series. Against the Ivy Leaguers, the Wildcats only led by one midway through the second half until a 21-6 run finally clinched their fourth straight victory.
No other Wildcat cracked double-digits in points and they shot a woeful 30 percent in the first half to keep alive Penn’s upset bid.
Antonio Woods kept the Quakers (4-9) competitive for 30 minutes and led them with 18 points.
Woods’ second 3-pointer of the game pulled the Quakers within one with 12:53 left headed into a timeout. He hit another 3 that kept it a one-point game after the Wildcats threatened to finally build some breathing room with a short run.
Nova guard Ryan Arcidiacono was left alone in the corner to hit a 3 that made it 41-37. Ochefu stepped out to the perimeter and blocked a shot, which led to Dylan Ennis’ layup on the other end for a 43-37 lead. Ochefu, 6-foot-11, 245 pounds, nearly brought down the rim on a monster dunk that made it 45-37 and the Wildcats took off from there.
The Wildcats flexed their muscle and dominated the Quakers over the final 8 minutes, winning their 12th straight game in the series. The Wildcats also won Philadelphia’s city series title played by the Big 5 of Villanova, Temple, La Salle, Saint Joseph’s and Penn. The Wildcats had otherwise bullied their city rivals, thumping La Salle 84-70, Saint Joseph’s 74-46 and Temple 85-62.
The Quakers were set for an upset at the Palestra, which opened in 1927, and tried to knock off their first AP Top 5 team since it beat No. 3 North Carolina in the 1979 NCAA tournament.
The Quakers kept it close because of a miserable shooting effort by the Wildcats. They missed 10 of 14 3-pointers and made only 1 of 6 free throws. They shot 30 percent (9 of 30) overall from the floor, well below their 41 percent on the season.
Former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell, who earned his undergraduate degree at Penn in 1965, was among the sellout crowd of 8,722 inside the creaky gym on Penn’s campus. He cheered when Woods buried a corner 3 that tied the game at 19-all with 3 minutes left in the half.
Darrun Hilliard put the Wildcats ahead with a 3 and sent them into halftime with a 23-21 lead.
Penn: Penn has not defeated Villanova since 2002. … The Quakers outrebounded Villanova 37-33. … Penn had 17 turnovers.
Villanova: The Wildcats missed 16 of their final 19 shots in the first half. … The Wildcats have won 11 straight games overall in the city series.
Penn hosts Monmouth on Wednesday.
Villanova plays Monday at Georgetown.
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