Penn all-time moment No. 4: Comeback, Quaker style

Penn is next because the Palestra bathrooms are hallowed ground … if you pick the right door.

There are few things more deflating for a Penn hoops fan than losing to Princeton. The now infamous “Black Tuesday” incident of February 1999 was unprecedented in both its pain and scope. The Tigers roared back from an incredible 33-9 halftime deficit at the Palestra to cap one of the most historic comebacks in the fabled rivalry. The painful 50-49 victory was one that Quaker fans would not soon forget. I attended this game and had never seen a meltdown of this proportion against our principal rival.  When I think about, it is still incomprehensible.

However, as they say at the Palestra, “Revenge is a dish served steaming hot.” (I hate clichés.) Six years later, the Tigers had replaced the venerable Pete Carril with the alienating Joe Scott on the Princeton bench.  What’s more, they had Judson Wallace mouthing off about how his team would not only win the Ivy title, but sweep the rest of the league as well:  “I might get in trouble fast, but our team will win our next 10 games in a row. I know that.”

(For the record, no one likes a braggart from Jersey.)

The game started off so poorly for the Quakers that I, as I have already mentioned in an earlier post, turned off my car radio and headed home. By halftime, Princeton had a commanding 32-17 lead. The beginning of the second half was looking just as grim for Penn with the Tigers extending their lead to 53-35 with only 7:35 to play. That’s when Penn coach Fran Dunphy instituted full court pressure (a 1-2-2 trap) and the Tiger resolve began to crumble like a cheap orange and black suit you’d buy at a thrift store on Nassau Street. Unable to deal with the pressure defense, turnover after turnover allowed the Quakers to get back into the game until Eric Osmundson tied the contest on a pair of free throws with 31 seconds left forcing overtime. The home team then finished what it had started by finally sealing an emotional win, 70-62. Propelled by this victory, the Quakers would go on to win the Ivy title.  After the game, Osmundson summed it up best:

“Dunphy would tell us that this is as good as it gets. He’d say, ‘You may go on to play professional basketball, but the time you’re at Penn being part of this team, it will never get better.’ And I think of that moment and I think of that statement, and I smile because it’s so true.”

BTW, Judson Wallace fouled out with 1:06 left in regulation.


Stay Red and Blue my Friends,


The AQ

*For the best firsthand recollections of this game, see Dave Zeitlin’s great Penn Gazette article from earlier this year.


5 thoughts on “Penn all-time moment No. 4: Comeback, Quaker style”

  1. Had the Princeton coach still been JT III or Scott’s successor, Sydney Johnson, Judson’s prediction would have had much greater merit. As it happened, Joe Scott undermined a great job of rebuilding by JT III by rigidly enforcing his “system” rather than adapting to the talents of his upperclassmen.

    The occasional “braggart ” from NJ is more than offset by the frequency of complainers from Philly!

  2. Forgive me, but by commenting on Mr. Scott’s poor coaching ability are you not registering a “complaint?”

    BTW, is “Tiger69” a sexual reference?

    The AQ

    • Tricky semantics. I suppose that you could construe my criticisms of Scott as complaints. He was a dissappointment to me, more for the way that he behaved and treated his players than his actual coaching skills (which I am hardly competent to judge). So, I guess that you are correct, in that I should not have “complained” that JS “undermined” JT III’s fine job. I was more interested in defending Judson, a hard working player whose chance remark of bravado got picked up and beaten to death. Let it die. Penn won. Enough salt in Wallace’s wounds.

      As for Tiger69 as a sexual reference, why, I haven’t any idea what you are talking about, AQ.

      More ancient Tiger69

  3. LOL! That is hilarious. For that final remark, I will apologize to Mr. Judson for putting more “salt” his his wounds.

    You have redeemed yourself Mr. 69.

    The AQ

  4. This is Judson. I am fine with my remarks. If my back had been healthy we would have been fine with or without Joe. The call at the 1:06 mark is one of the worst in Ivy History, confirmed by any Penn player on the other team you talk to. It was a great comeback though and why college basketball is so great. Go Tigers.

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