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Villanova pounds Penn for 19th straight Big Five victory

Jalen Brunson led the way with 17 points as Villanova beat Penn, 90-62, at Jake Nevin Field House to keep their Big Five streak alive.

Jalen Brunson of Villanova goes up for a shot against Antonio Woods of Penn at Jake Nevin Field House.
Jalen Brunson of Villanova goes up for a shot against Antonio Woods of Penn at Jake Nevin Field House.Read moreCHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

Wednesday was a throwback kind of night at Villanova.

The fourth-ranked Wildcats hosted Penn. But the game wasn't held at the Pavilion, which is being renovated this season. Instead the venue was the nearby Jake Nevin Field House. They hadn't played in the arena since January 1986. And they'd never played a Big Five game there. The rest of their home games will be at the Wells Fargo Center.

Named after the beloved longtime trainer, Nevin opened in 1931, four years after the Palestra. In this intimate setting, it might have been louder than either of those places.

The Wildcats wore their uniforms from 1985, when Rollie Massimino's team magically won the first of the program's bookend national titles. Daddy Mass, who passed away in late August, was honored at halftime. But some things remain constant.

The Wildcats moved to 7-0 with a 90-62 win. It was their 19th straight Big Five victory. And, for the 17th straight time, they won by double digits. They also won their 27th in a row in November.

It was 46-28 at halftime. It was a six-point game after nine minutes. Then, just like that, it wasn't. Villanova can do that, to a lot of people. The Wildcats haven't lost to Penn since 2002.

"I can't explain it, rationally, how they've done it over that stretch of time," said Penn coach Steve Donahue. "We're all motivated to reach their bar. We want to end that streak."

Villanova, which just won the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas, had five players score at least 12 points. Jalen Brunson had 17, on 6-for-7 shooting, in 26 minutes. The Wildcats made 56.7 percent from the field, 50 percent from the arc.

The largest lead was 30, with 6 1/2 minutes left.

"I don't like to think about [the numbers]," said Wildcats coach Jay Wright. "You know if you don't bring it you're going to get beat. We live here. We watch those teams. We all know the Big Five is different. But they still play against each other in the summer."

Penn, which was coming off a four-overtime win at Monmouth on Saturday, did get a dozen layups, which if nothing else will give Wright something to point out to his guys.

AJ Brodeur scored 15 for the Quakers.

"Honestly, this was awesome," said Brunson, who had four assists and no turnovers. "Definitely a great experience. I couldn't hear Coach sometimes. I had to read his lips."

The Wildcats are at St. Joseph's on Saturday. Then they get No. 15 Gonzaga, the defending national runner-up, in New York on Tuesday, followed by La Salle at home and Temple, the last Big Five team to beat them, on North Broad Street.

Penn (5-4) plays its next three on the road: at Howard on Monday, at Lafayette two nights later and at Dayton on Dec. 9. After that the Quakers will be off until after Christmas.