Villanova hosts Penn in battle of Philadelphia

Villanova highly touted freshman Cam Whitmore missed the first seven games of the season following right thumb surgery.

In the eighth game, Whitmore showed why Villanova was anxiously anticipating his season debut. Whitmore had seven points and three steals to help the Wildcats (3-5) defeat Oklahoma 70-66 last Saturday in Philadelphia.

The Wildcats now look for another victory when they host Big 5 rival Pennsylvania on Wednesday.

“Honestly, I’m shocked,” Villanova head coach Kyle Neptune said of Whitmore, who had surgery on the thumb in October. “He literally hasn’t played basketball in seven weeks. Normal human beings would be completely discombobulated. To his credit, he gave us a big boost, especially defensively with his size and athleticism. And just the energy he brought.”

“My brothers just helped me up,” Whitmore said. “That’s really it. They kept helping me, telling me what to do today. It just helped us get the win.”

Caleb Daniels led the way with 22 points in a much-needed win for Villanova, which snapped a four-game losing streak.

Pennsylvania will look to snap a two-game losing streak, both to Big 5 schools.

The Quakers (5-6) fell 85-80 in overtime to Saint Joseph’s and then dropped an 84-81 overtime decision to La Salle last Saturday in Philadelphia.

Against La Salle, Jordan Dingle led Pennsylvania with a career-high 37 points, including a 3-pointer that pushed the game into overtime.

Dingle’s outburst was the most points by a Quaker since Matt Maloney scored 37 against American on Jan. 13, 1993.

It wasn’t enough as Pennsylvania played without key injured players Clark Slajchert (17.4 points per game) and Max Lorca-Lloyd. Their status is unclear for the game against Villanova.

“Jordan, they put so many different bodies around him,” Quakers head coach Steve Donahue said. “He was amazing at times. My fear is that we’re relying on him so much because we don’t have the 18 points from his backcourt partner.”

Despite Dingle’s heroics, Pennsylvania made some costly turnovers down the stretch and into overtime.

“I thought we got careless with the ball,” Donahue said. “Give La Salle credit. Both teams played hard, and I just thought they executed better than us when they had to.”

–Field Level Media