In first game since the passing away of Fran Dunphy's father, Penn defeats La Salle, 62-58
January 14, 1999
Emotions can sometimes distract a team from the true goal. And for the Penn team and coaching staff on mithis week, there was no shortage of emotion. But instead, they used that emotion as motivation to beat La Salle at Tom Gola Arena and remain perfect in the Big 5.
Fran Dunphy, Sr., father of legendary coach Fran Dunphy, passed away the Sunday morning before the game against the Explorers. Dunphy Sr. attended most Penn basketball games, sitting just two rows behind the bench. Despite the heavy hearts, the Red and Blue kept their composure and won the game in memory of their "No. 1 fan".
La Salle's defense frustrated the Quakers all night by shutting down their perimeter shooting and holding Penn's leading scorer Michael Jordan to just 10 points. But this gave other players the chance to step up.
Power forward Paul Romanczuk led the Quakers with a stellar performance, nearly tripling his season average to finish with 24 points on 11-of-13 shooting and 8 rebounds.
The Red and Blue's offense stalled with less than five minutes remaining in the game, as they went over three minutes without scoring. The team's hustle, credited by the players as the desire to win one for Dunphy, Sr., was the only thing that prevented La Salle from taking the lead. A long jumper from Jordan with just 18 seconds left sealed the Quakers' victory.
La Salle's freshman sensation Rasual Butler had a career night, scoring 21 points and hitting five three-pointers. The Explorers were also boosted by senior K'Zell Wesson, who scored 19 points.
Dunphy continued to coach at Penn until 2006, amassing an astounding 310-163 record during his tenure. He accepted the head coaching job at Temple, becoming the first head coach ever to lead two Big 5 teams. Dunphy will face Penn at the Liacouras Center on Jan. 23.
This win was part of another strong season for the Red and Blue, as the team rode its 21-6 record to one of Dunphy's 10 Ivy League titles, losing to the University of Florida in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.