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UNIVERSITY HISTORY

PHILADELPHIA BIG 5
In the News: 1958-1959

 

From the Daily Pennsylvanian, February 12, 1959:

 

Quakers Edged By St. Joe’s in Palestra Thriller, 80-77; Mlkvy Nets 11 in Initial Start

 

The Quakers were out to pull an upset again last night at the Palestra – and to most of the 2,720 fans, it looked as if they might do it, as the Red and Blue cagers outhustled highly-rated St. Joseph’s for almost 30 minutes before the Hawks were finally able to come from behind and eke out a 80-77 win in a down-to-the-wire thriller.

However, Pennsylvania’s basketball future looked brighter than ever with the long awaited appearance of Bob Mlkvy in the starting lineup. The 6-4 sophomore, sidelined for most of the season with an injured thigh, fulfilled the most optimistic of expectations as he clearly strengthened the Quakers in the rebounding department in addition to netting 11 points in his initial varsity role.

The Penn cagers, hitting on 59% of their shots in the first half, played tremendous basketball and walked off the court with an unexpected 47-42 halftime lead. Sparked by the clutch-playing of captain Joe Spratt, the Hawks fought back in the second stanza to finally even the score at 60-all with 10:32 remaining.

Sparked by the clutch-playing of captain Joe Spratt, the Hawks fought back in the second stanza to finally even the score at 60-all with 10:32 remaining.

Spratt, along with 6-9 junior Bobby Clarke who netted 20 points to pace the Hawks, was the big difference in the second half, as he sank 13 of his 15 point game total.

The lead seesawed until the Hawks went ahead 77-75 on Spratt’s two-pointer with (blank) left. The Quakers finally got the ball and tried to work for one good shot, but with 1:05 left, Al Schwait missed a jumper and St. Joe’s took possession.

Bobby McNeill, who had 14 points for the evening, netted three free throws in the final minutes. But Joe Bowman was fouled by McNeill with 14 seconds to go, and sunk two shots in a one and one situation to make the score 80-77.

Almost before the crowd knew what had happened, Jack Follman stole a St. Joe’s pass under Penn’s basket and tossed to John Mangan, but Mangan missed, and St. Joe’s grabbed the ball as the clock ran out.

When George Schmidt, the game’s high point man with 24, drew his fourth personal with four minutes gone in the second half, it marked a turning point in the game for the Quakers. Up to that time they had been effectively containing the St. Joe’s attack with a man-to-man defense, but were forced to switch to a 1-3-1 zone, giving Spratt the opening to come through with his timely jump shots.

The Quakers are now 11-7, while St. Joseph’s holds a 15-3 record. Last night’s City Series victory clinches a tie for the Big Five crown for the Hawks.