With just two seconds remaining before halftime, senior forward Kris Jenkins stepped up to the foul line in front of the Penn student section at The Palestra. Following a fastbreak dunk by fellow senior Josh Hart, Jenkins was attempting a pair of free throws after the officials called a technical foul on the Quakers’ bench.
Jenkins dropped both shots through the net and took his place in Villanova’s record book by becoming the 63rd Wildcat to score 1,000 points. He would finish the game with 22 points to lead all scorers and help his team to a 82-57 victory over their Big Five rival.
After the game, Jenkins reacted humbly to questions about the milestone. He was quick to credit his teammates, both past and present, for helping him achieve such a special moment.
Aside from reaching the 1,000-point plateau, this was one of Jenkins’ most impressive shooting performances of his Villanova career. He was a remarkably efficient 6-of-7 from beyond the arc and finished 7-of-11 overall from the field. The only time Jenkins has made more 3-pointers in a single game was last March against DePaul, when he made eight on his way to a career-high 31 points.
“The shooting, he’s always had, but he has gotten better every year.” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said, noting that Jenkins’ growth has continued into his senior season. “Even with the success he had last year, that’s pretty impressive for a 22-year-old.”
It was a terrific night for ‘Nova’s entire senior class as Jenkins, Hart, and forward Darryl Reynolds all scored in double figures. Hart, despite not starting the game after arriving late to a team workout last week, finished with 12 points as well as nine assists and six rebounds. Reynolds tied a season-high with 12 points by going 4-of-4 from the floor. His eight rebounds were the most by any player in the game.
Sophomore guard Donte DiVincenzo made his first career start in place of Hart and actually finished as the team’s second-leading scorer. He went 3-of-5 from three-point range and added four points from the charity stripe for a total of 13. Sophomores Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges also finished in double figures scoring 11 and 10 points, respectively.
This victory gives Jenkins, Hart, and Reynolds a perfect 26-0 record in the month of November during their time at Villanova. Wright has now led the ‘Cats to 15 straight Big Five victories and 14 straight wins against Penn.
“[They’re] way better than any other team we’ve ever played,” said junior guard Darnell Foreman, who was one of Penn’s three leading scorers.
Foreman was one of the Quakers that gave Villanova trouble. He and freshman forward A.J. Brodeur each finished with 10 points, while sophomore guard Jackson Donahue led the team with 12 points.
Villanova was forced to overcome 17 turnovers to build its commanding lead. Penn played physical, man-to-man defense that forced some sloppy plays by the ‘Cats. Unfortunately for the Quakers, they also committed 17 turnovers, a number that they could not overcome.
The Wildcats will attempt to continue their dominance against the Big Five opponent when they host rival St. Joseph’s at the Pavilion on Saturday. Wright noted that the return of junior guard Phil Booth, who missed a fourth consecutive game with knee soreness, is “possible”. If Booth is forced to sit out another game, his return will be “probable” when Villanova takes on La Salle next Tuesday, December 6.
Tipoff for the 74th Holy War is scheduled for 1 p.m.