PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Mark Zoller sank all three free throws with 1.4 seconds left after being fouled on a 3-point attempt, and Penn rallied from a 19-point deficit to stun Temple 76-74 on Wednesday night, spoiling Owls coach Fran Dunphy’s return to the Palestra.
Ibrahim Jaaber led Penn (11-6) with 21 points and was absolutely amazing in a game the old-timers like to simply call at the Palestra “good hoops.” Once Jaaber got going, so did the Quakers, and they sent Dunphy home a loser in his emotional first game against his former team.
Dunphy had 310 wins and 10 Ivy League titles in 17 seasons with the Quakers. He won three Big 5 city series titles and his 191 Ivy wins put him second on the career list.
Zoller scored nine of Penn’s final 12 points and finished with 19. Brian Grandieri had 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Dionte Christmas scored a career-high 34 points for the Owls (7-11) and Mark Tyndale had 19.
Jaaber and Zoller rallied the Quakers to one of the more fantastic wins at the Palestra, the fabled home of the Big 5 on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus.
The Quakers went on a 27-8 run that spanned the first and second half to tie the score at 46. From there, the game was tighter than the fans packed in the bleacher seats.
After Christmas sank five 3-pointers in the first half to help the Owls open a 38-19 lead, he made two free throws with 34.8 seconds left that gave Temple a 72-71 lead.
Jaaber had a baseline layup blocked out of bounds, and his inbounds pass to Zoller was converted into a driving layup down the lane that made it 73-72 with 22 seconds to go.
Christmas hit a jumper from the right wing and Temple went ahead 74-73, seemingly clinching the win for Dunphy and giving the Owls their first Big 5 win of the season.
But Zoller was fouled by Dion Dacons on a heaved 3 with 1.4 seconds left, sending one half of the crowd into a frenzy and quieting the other side.
Zoller made the first, hit the second for a 75-74 lead and swished the third. Dustin Salisbery’s desperation shot was no good, and the Penn student section mobbed the court celebrating the win.
Dunphy walked in about 90 minutes before tip, photographers snapping away as if it was a Final Four as he shook hands with author John Feinstein. Dunphy shared a brief hug with some well wishers and briefly chatted with a couple of Quakers during warmups.
He shook hands with Penn coach Glen Miller, who came over from Brown to replace Dunphy, and looked relaxed before the game, even joking with some fans in the stands while others took pictures.
Dunphy received a warm ovation in pregame introductions, but had no reason to smile at the end.