Villanova Loses To Pitt, 58-43
Sports Fan Insider
VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) — Pittsburgh said goodbye to Villanova with a win for the record book.
Thanks a game-ending scoring drought, the Wildcats scored the fewest points in a home game in the 27-year history of the Pavilion.
Durand Johnson and Trey Zeigler each scored 13 points to lead Pittsburgh to a 58-43 win over Villanova on Wednesday night.
The Panthers (14-4, 2-3 Big East) snapped a tie game with a 15-0 run to end the game, and they held Villanova without a point for the final 5 minutes, 13 seconds.
“We love to come here,” coach Jamie Dixon said.
With good reason. Dixon has long mined the fertile Philadelphia ground for talent, and the Panthers are one of the few teams that can stop the Wildcats at home. The Wildcats ended a 46-game winning streak at the Pavilion that started Jan. 17, 2007, with a loss to Pitt back in 2011.
The Panthers left this one with a parting gift to remember.
This was the final Big East matchup at Villanova between the intrastate rivals before the Panthers bolt for the ACC next season.
“They always challenge your toughness,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “I will miss these games, I really will.”
The Panthers opened conference play with consecutive losses before a 28-point win at Georgetown. The Panthers lost at home the last time out to Marquette. They didn’t play much better against the Wildcats, missing 12 of 15 3-point attempts and shooting 36 percent from the floor.
Against the struggling Wildcats, it was enough. Darrun Hilliard scored all 14 of his points in the first half. The Wildcats (11-6, 2-2) committed 18 turnovers.
With each team unable to score, the game was close, if not ugly. James Bell’s steal and bucket — off Pitt’s 14th turnover — tied the game at 43-all.
Villanova’s tight double team nearly forced turnover No. 15, but Zeigler found Steve Adams alone near the basket for the uncontested dunk. Zeigler followed with a layup to make it a four-point lead, and Villanova called timeout. Patterson, who averaged 9.6 points, banked a runner for his first field goal of the game and an eight-point lead, and the run was on.
The Wildcats would not score again after Bell’s bucket.
“We didn’t make shots,” Wright said. “When you don’t make shots, that means the other team is playing pretty good defense.”
Ryan Arcidiacono’s short jumper gave Villanova a 32-25 lead and got a rise out of the usually staid crowd. The Wildcats, coming off a loss at Syracuse, just never found their shooting touch. They followed an eight-basket first half with only six in the second, hardly a recipe for a win.
Tray Woodall scored eight points for Pitt. In Pitt’s previous game, Woodall’s head smacked into the knee of Marquette’s Derrick Wilson while scrambling for a loose ball, and he didn’t return. Pitt improved to 55-41 in Big East road games over the last 12 seasons.
“We’re finding ourselves,” Dixon said. “Yeah, I wish it was figured out in September and October, but that’s why we play, that’s why we practice. I hope this is something we build off of.”
The Wildcats couldn’t shoot or hold onto the ball for most of the first half. At one point, the Wildcats had eight turnovers and only four field goals, one reason Pitt pulled ahead thanks to a 9-0 run.
Hilliard, though, kept them afloat with defensive hustle and sharp shooting beyond the arc. He hit all three of his 3-point attempts and was active on defense. He turned a steal at the top of Pittsburgh’s key into a three-point play. On his next steal, he found Arcidiacono in transition for a 3-pointer that put Villanova ahead 23-22 at the break.
Villanova’s previous scoring low at home came in a 53-52 loss to Saint Joseph’s on Dec. 12, 1987.
“I was getting to spots on the floor that I wanted to get,” said JayVaughn Pinnkston, who scored eight points, five off his average. “They were just playing behind us in the post, and I couldn’t see over them, really.”
Pitt found a way to get it done in the second half. Even the new guys like Zeigler, a transfer from Central Michigan, will miss Pitt’s trips east.
“I enjoyed tonight,” he said. “It’s going to be sad not being able to come back here.”