CBKB: No. 19 Pittsburgh upsets No. 3 Villanova 70-65
GENARO C. ARMAS
AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH — Ashton Gibbs scored 21 points and No. 19 Pittsburgh upset No. 3 Villanova 70-65 on Sunday.
Gilbert Brown added 16 points, including a thunderous dunk off a baseline move with 1:29 left that gave the Panthers (21-6, 10-4 Big East) a six-point lead.
The first meeting between the two teams since Villanova's dramatic NCAA tournament win last year turned out to be another typical, physical Big East matchup. Last season, star guard Scottie Reynolds' last-second dash to the basket gave the Wildcats a 78-76 win to send them to the Final Four.
This time, the Panthers built up enough of a cushion to prevent Reynolds from repeating his late-game heroics.
Reynolds finished with 20 points, and his three foul shots with 7 seconds left got the Wildcats (22-4, 11-3) within three, but Pitt withstood Villanova's late pressure.
Reynolds spent most of the first half on the bench with two fouls and had to fend off harassing defense from Pitt's Jermaine Dixon much of the afternoon.
Still, the Wildcats have showed that they can't be counted out in tight games, not with Reynolds on their side.
He scored 17 points in the second half, hitting 3s and drawing fouls to keep Villanova within striking distance. But Pitt had an answer every time the Wildcats came within a basket.
The Panthers missed a few free throws late to keep things interesting, and Reynolds' layup with 1.4 seconds left got Villanova within 68-65.
But Gibbs was fouled almost immediately and hit both foul shots to let the Pitt crowd finally breathe a collective sigh of relief. Pitt moved into a tie for third place in the Big East with West Virginia.
Villanova lost back-to-back games for the first time in two seasons and dropped a game back of conference leader Syracuse. The Wildcats and Orange meet Saturday at the Carrier Dome.
Gary McGhee added seven points and 10 rebounds, including eight on the offensive end to pace Pitt. They outrebounded Villanova 40-34.
Corey Fisher added 12 points for the Wildcats.
With Reynolds on the bench because of foul trouble for much of the first half, Villanova's high-octane offense grounded to a halt. The Wildcats shot just 9 of 26 over the first 20 minutes (34.6 percent) — well below their season average of 46.7 percent.
Led by the raucous student section dubbed the "Oakland Zoo," the full house at the Peterson Events Center cheered wildly when Reynolds went to the bench with his second foul at 9:21 of the first half. The attendance of 12,920 set a school record for the largest on-campus crowd.
Already upset by a string of foul calls, Villanova coach Jay Wright stomped on the sideline, then got whistled for a technical foul after jawing with the official.
Led by McGhee's active play, Pitt led by 10 early and went up 29-23 at halftime.