No. 4 Pitt holds on to beat VillanovaFeb 13, 2011 - 8:09 AM Villanova, PA (Sports Network) - Brad Wanamaker scored 21 points, and fourth- ranked Pittsburgh held off No. 9 Villanova, 57-54, to snap the Wildcats' 46- game winning streak at the Pavilion.
Nasir Robinson added 15 points for the Panthers (23-2, 11-1 Big East), who firmed up their position at the top of the conference. Every other Big East team has at least three conference losses, as well as at least four setbacks overall.
Pitt earned the victory without leading scorer Ashton Gibbs, who missed the game with a knee injury. The Panthers also won at the Pavilion for the first time since January 22, 1994.
Villanova had a chance to tie the game following a timeout with 12.5 seconds left, but Dominic Cheek's off-balance try from the left wing was off the mark.
The Wildcats got the rebound and kicked it out to Maalik Wayns, but he released a successful try just after time ran out.
"It's good to see you fight through some things and get through it and believe in what you're doing," said Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon.
Mouphtaou Yarou had 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead Villanova (19-6, 7-5), which played without Corey Stokes. The senior guard is the team's second- leading scorer, but missed the game with turf toe. Wayns added 13 points for the Wildcats.
It was the second consecutive close defeat for Villanova, which lost to Rutgers on Wednesday when Jonathan Mitchell converted a four-point play in the final second.
But while the Wildcats blew a double-digit lead in that contest, they faced a double-digit deficit in Saturday's. They had held a small advantage in the first half, carried a 27-23 edge into the break, and were up 32-29 nearly four minutes into the second half.
During that stoppage, Pitt's Gilbert Brown and Yarou both made two free throws following a pair of fouls. Villanova's Isaiah Armwood was whistled for a technical foul for hitting Robinson in the face.
That served as a turning point, as Villanova scored just twice in the next eight-plus minutes, allowing Pitt to build its lead with a 17-4 run. Wanamaker, a senior guard from Philadelphia, powered the Panthers with seven points.
All the momentum was going Pitt's way as it increased the difference, and center Gary McGhee punctuated the run with a transition slam.
After Wayns turned the ball over, McGhee got the ball in front of the basket, then waited as a defender ran by before throwing down an emphatic dunk. The bucket gave Pitt a 46-36 lead with about nine minutes to play.
"There was a period in the second half that we didn't score for a while," said Villanova head coach Jay Wright, "and it was their good defense and poor shot selection on our part."
The Panthers were up 52-41 with a little more than five minutes left, but Villanova used defense to facilitate a comeback.
Following Corey Fisher's free throw, a Brown turnover led to a Wayns jumper. Brown turned the ball over again on the Panthers' next possession, and Yarou drained a jumper to get the Wildcats within six. A third Brown turnover sent Wayns into action, and the guard made a layup while drawing a foul with 3:09 on the clock.
Wayns hit the free throw to make it a 52-49 contest, but the Wildcats' chances decreased on Pitt's next possession -- Wanamker rolled off a screen and drilled a jumper in the lane. He also drew a foul on the play, making the shot to restore a six-point edge.
Pitt still held a six-point lead with 1:08 left, 57-51, after a series of free throws, but Antonio Pena's three got Villanova within a possession.
The Panthers ran time off the clock before Pena ripped the ball from Wanamaker's hands with half a minute to go. Villanova's offense was out of rhythm, though, leading to the timeout and final sequence.
Pitt has won five consecutive games against top 10-ranked opponents...The Panthers improved to 6-18 in games played at Villanova...Fisher ended with 11 points, while Pena had 10...The Wildcats shot 36 percent, while the Panthers made 39 percent of their shots...Pitt has won 13 of its last 14 games overall...Former Villanova star Randy Foye, who helped lead the Wildcats to appearances in the NCAA Sweet 16 and NCAA Elite Eight in his final two seasons, had his No. 2 jersey retired Saturday morning.
- PITTSBURGH: 57
Feb 12 11:21 PM
- PITTSBURGH: 0
1st Half - 20:00
Feb 12 9:06 PM
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