Saint Joseph's DeAndre' Bembry had a game-high 25 points, on 10-for-22 shooting, but the Hawks fell to Penn, 56-52, in Big 5 action before a packed house at The Palestra on Saturday night.
Tony Hicks scored 15 points and Darien Nelson-Henry had 14 to lead Penn (5-10; 1-3 Big 5).
Bembry shot 10-for-22 from the field, while it marked his third consecutive game with 20-plus points and his 15th consecutive in double figures.
Penn led the entire second half, taking its biggest lead, 46-36, at 5:06. Bembry kept the Hawks close, scoring 18 points in the second half, and pulling SJU within 47-44 with a three-pointer and then a three-point play at 3:25.
The Quakers went back up, 49-44, on a layup by Hicks and SJU responded with a layup by Isaiah Miles to cut it to 49-46 at 2:44. Hicks hit a pair from the foul line to give Penn a 51-46 cushion, but freshman Shavar Newkirk hit a three-pointer with 34.7 seconds left to pull SJU within 51-49.
Hicks, who went 7-of-8 from the line in the game, made another free throw and Penn would convert 5-of-6 from the foul line in the final 34 seconds to seal the win. A three-pointer by Bembry with nine seconds to play provided the final margin.
"It's an opportunity missed. It was Saturday night at the Palestra. We should've made a better showing," said head coach Phil Martelli. "It was a great scouting report job by Penn and that's on me. We'll call it like it is and we had guys that they didn't guard. I have to put them in better positions to excel. We were a one-man offensive game and he wasn't even that good in the first half."
The teams combined for a low-scoring first half, with Penn holding a 20-17 edge at intermission. The Hawks led by as much as five points in the half and then held a 17-14 lead with 7:34 remaining, but that would be their last basket of the half.
Point guard Chris Wilson had a career-high 10 rebounds for SJU, which only had Bembry score double figures. Javon Baumann recorded a career-high five blocked shots.
Saint Joseph's will visit La Salle on Tuesday in a Big 5 and Atlantic 10 game in a 7 p.m. start. The game will be televised in Philadelphia on The Comcast Network.