It turned out that La Salle was waiting for the second overtime to feature Amar Stukes at the offensive end against Penn in the initial Big Five game of the new season.
Stukes, a senior guard, had four points in the game after the first overtime but erupted for eight points in the second extra period, including six free throws, and the Explorers outlasted the Quakers, 75-71, at the Palestra.
Stukes emerged front and center offensively after B.J. Johnson, who scored a game-high 20 points, fouled out with 3 minutes, 46 seconds to play. The Explorers (2-0, 1-0 Big Five) trailed, 61-60, at that point, but Stukes took the ball to the basket on his team's next three possessions.
He sank two free throws. He hit a sweeping shot across the lane. He deposited two more free throws, and that put La Salle in front, 66-62, with 2:02 remaining. He added two more foul shots with 31.6 seconds to play to extend the Explorers' advantage to 70-65.
"I didn't feel like I needed to be the guy," said Stukes, a La Salle High graduate who finished with 12 points. "I just felt like with B.J. going out we needed another offensive threat, so I felt that I had to be a little bit more aggressive and try to make plays for my team down the stretch."
La Salle coach John Giannini liked what he saw.
"It was inspirational to watch," he said. "As a coach, to see one of your guys play with that kind of effort and make those plays at both ends brings tremendous pride. I couldn't be more proud of him. … It's just great to see him as he gets older assert his will on the game the way he's doing it this year."
The Explorers, who also got 17 points from Pookie Powell, turned the ball over 17 times and shot just 2 of 13 from three-point range, but they held the Quakers (0-2, 0-1) to 33.8 percent shooting, outrebounded them, 53-40, and limited A.J. Brodeur, Penn's leading scorer last season, to just seven shots and 12 points.
"I thought we really played well enough to win, and in other ways we kind of got what we deserved," Penn coach Steve Donahue said. "La Salle is much improved defensively from last year. They're so well-coached."
The game was closely contested after halftime. After Max Rothschild (14 points, 11 rebounds) hit a basket with 18:36 left in the second half to close Penn's deficit to four, neither team led by more than four points from that moment until Stukes' free throws at the 31.6-second mark of the second overtime.
"It's a shame someone had to lose that game," Giannini said. "Both teams left every ounce of energy and effort out there on the court."