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College Basketball: Big 5 Classic Setting Stage at the Wells Fargo Center.

By Donald Hunt, 11/30/23, 1:00PM EST


Temple, La Salle, St. Joseph's, Penn, Villanova and Newly Welcomed Drexel Will Usher in a New History to the Big 5 Tradition

Photos/Videos: Geanine Jamison, Ryan Nix, Mike Nance & Josh Abrams

By: Donald Hunt

PHILADELPHIA -  Philadelphia has a unique place in college basketball. For many years, the city’s five Division I schools – Villanova, Temple, Penn, La Salle and Saint Joseph’s have battled each other for local bragging rights. And now Drexel has been added to this storied basketball tradition for the city championship. Speaking of the championship, Saint Joseph’s will face Temple in the first ever Big 5 title on Saturday, Dec. 2 at the Wells Fargo Center.

St. Joe’s defeated No. 18th ranked Villanova, 78-65, at Finneran Pavillion behind a spectacular performance from the Hawks’ backcourt standouts Eric Reynolds II (24 points) and freshman Xzayvier Brown (16 points) from Roman Catholic. St. Joe’s (5-2) also solid contributions from guard Lynn Greer III (15 points) another former Roman Catholic star along with forward Rasheer Flemming (12 points and 11 rebounds). The Wildcats were led by graduate guard Justin Moore (17 points, 5 rebounds) and senior forward Eric Dixon (14 points, 1 block, 3 rebounds).

Temple (4-2) advanced to the championship game with a 106-99 win over La Salle (5-2) in triple overtime at the Liacouras Center. The Owls were led by former Neumann-Goretti guard Hysier Miller who was the Owls’ leading scorer with 20 points.

Temple picked up a tremendous performance from forward Steve Settle III who had 19 points and 16 rebounds. In addition to Miller and Settle, the Owls had three other players in double figures with guards Jordan Riley (16 points), Zion Stanford, a West Catholic product, and Quante Berry (13 points). Temple needed the scoring power to hold off La Salle’ s high scoring guards Jhamir Brickus (41 points) and Khalil Brantley (29 points).

Temple vs. La Salle - PSD Highlights by Josh Abrams

The City 6 teams have provided a lot of thrills and excitement over the first month of the season. Moreover, the path to being crowned the city champion will be decided with a new method. The teams have been placed in two pods of three teams. The schools will face each other in a round robin fashion.

After these games, the teams will play in a tripleheader on Saturday, with the top seed in each pod playing for the Big 5 title. The second-place teams in each category will clash for third place and the remaining teams play for fifth place. Villanova (6-2) will play Drexel (4-3) for fifth place.

In the first pod, Temple has a 2-0 mark. La Salle has a 1-1 record in the city series. La Salle edged Drexel, 67-61, behind Brickus (18 points), Anwar Gill (15 points) and Brantley (13 points).

Temple nipped Drexel, 66-61, with Miller leading the way with 19 points and four assists in that game.

Drexel’s two losses were to La Salle and Temple respectively. The Dragons’ top scorer, rebounder and shot blocker is senior forward Amari Williams. He averages 12.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and 1.4 block shots a game.

In the second pod, Saint Joseph’s got off to a good start with a 69-61 win over Penn. The Hawks received great play from Greer who had 13 points and a career-high 11 assists while junior guard Reynolds chipped in with 13 points.

Although Penn (5-3) dropped a tough one to Saint Joseph’s, the Quakers pulled off an early season upset in the city series with a big victory over then No. 21st ranked Villanova, 76-72, at The Palestra to give Penn its first win of the city series.

The Quakers were led by freshman guard Tyler Perkins who had a game-high 22 points. Former Friends’ Central star and junior forward Ed Holland contributed 12 points in that contest.

The Wildcats and the Dragons are looking for their first city series win. Prior to the loss to St. Joe’s, Villanova (6-2) had won four straight games including the Battle 4 Atlantis championship defeating Memphis, 79-63 in the championship game. Villanova graduate student and shooting guard Justin Moore (16.3 ppg, 2.3 apg) and senior forward Eric Dixon (14.5 ppg, 7.5 rpg) have been playing extremely well.