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PHILADELPHIA BIG 5
In the News: 1957-1958

 

From the Daily Pennsylvanian, December 18, 1957:

 

Quakers Defeat LaSalle 67-66, For Season’s Fifth Straight Victory, First Triumph in City Series Play

 

Last night at the Palestra, Penn’s perennially hustling Quakers knocked off a highly talented LaSalle, 67-66, in a wild and wooly overtime contest.

Sounds great, another win! But this was more than just another win-much more. As jubilant coach Jack McCloskey put it, “It is the most satisfying win I have had anywhere. It is one of Penn’s greatest victories in any sport.”

Now just what made this win extra special? Firstly, the triumph enabled the Red and Blue to remain among the exclusive unbeaten class at five straight. Secondly, Penn achieved its initial victory in formal City-Series play after losing eight consecutive contests to city rivals since 1955 when the round robin setup originated.

 

First Penn Test

The triumph over LaSalle was Penn’s first win in a decade over any city school. But, most important, the win established Penn as a ball club to be reckoned with. Prior to meeting the Explorers, the Quakers had not gained the respect a winning ballclub enjoys simply because the Quakers were an unknown quantity who had knocked off a few fair ball teams but had not really been tested. If LaSalle was the test, those Quakers are Dean’s List cagers.

Penn was at a disadvantage from the onset, since the Quakers gave away height and experience to the Olneyites. This meant Penn had to make each shot count and hustle, hustle, hustle. The latter assignment was easy, for the McCloskey-coached cagers don’t know how to play it any other way.

 

Csencsitz Leads Attack

Shooting-wise, the Explorers managed to have the edge as they hit on 25 shots in 62 attempts, while the Penns needed three more attempts to net their 25 field goals. Foul percentage was about even, Penn making 17-33 and Lasalle 16-32. But the significant difference lay in the rebounding department where the “diminutive” Quakers picked off 50 missed shots to 46 for LaSalle. That accomplishment alone was quite a performance.

Leading the Penn attack was Captain Dick Csencsitz with 22 points and 20 important rebounds. Sub Al DeLucia, who has been making a habit of coming off the bench with “hot hands,” also sparkled. Sophomore Jack Saxenmeyer was brilliant with his floor play.

In the overtime session Penn called off forward Joe Bowman to sew things up. It was Bowman’s accurate foul shooting that proved the final difference as he netted four free throws in the final minute and eighteen seconds.

The first half was nip and tuck from the opening tapoff. LaSalle took the early lead, 6-2, but the Quakers, aided by field goals by Saxenmeyer, Jack Follman, and George Schmidt, captured the lead.

Csencsitz hit on a pretty three-pointer to give Penn its biggest first half margin, 24-20. With five seconds remaining Csencsitz pushed through a neat one-hander to give Penn the upperhand at the intermission, 32-28.

The Quakers quickly jumped to a 41-34 lead when play resumed. At this point LaSalle called time out to talk things over. The Explorers promptly went on a scoring splurge to recapture the lead and pull ahead, 53-47 with 3:50 to go.

The never-say-die Quakers rose to the occasion and battled back to within two points at 57-55 on DeLucia’s jump shot. With 20 seconds remaining Saxenmeyer lost possession of the ball on a drive to apparently wrap matters up for the Explorers. However, Sax promptly stole the inbounds pass for an easy layup to redeem himself and sent the game into overtime.

Sax pushed Penn ahead with a 20 foot jump in the opening minute of the five minute extra period. However, LaSalle goals by Tom Garberina, Charlie Eltringham, and sub Hugh Brolly enabled the Explorers to go ahead 64-61 with two minutes remaining.

Sax hit another long jump to close the gap to one. At this stage Bowman took matters into his own hands by netting the final four points via the foul line. Eltringham’s layup as time ran out merely made the final score closer in Penn’s finest win.