The Wildcats' bid to foil Pittsburgh's Senior Day celebration in what will be the last meeting of the two schools in Big East regular-season. Nova's play fell short after a heartbreaking breakdown late and in overtime.
In a game packed with referee's whistles, resulting in a stunning 47 personal fouls, it was the Wildcats' continued breakdowns on 3-point defense that ultimately did them in. Villanova allowed Pittsburgh to connect on 41.2% of their attempts from deep on their way to a 64-73 overtime loss on the road at Petersen Events Center.
It was probably the last regular season meeting for the schools for some time with the Panthers joining the ACC next season and Villanova expected to kick off a new conference with the Big East name at the same time. It will certainly be the last meeting of the two schools as conference foes. For the Wildcats, that means that their winless-in-Pittsburgh streak, that started in 1996, will remain active for the foreseeable future.
For Villanova, Ryan Arcidiacono led the way with 23 points, 4 assists and 5-of-8 shooting from the perimeter. Arch also made all six of his free throw attempts. Despite Arcidiacono's success, offensively, it was "Mr. Clutch," James Bell, who was given the ball at the start of the overtime period — his only made-three-point jumper came in the first minute of the second half, his only points of the game.
Mouph Yarou had a big game for Villanova, scoring 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting, grabbing 8 rebounds and adding 2 assists in 37 minutes. JayVaughn Pinkston was close behind in scoring with 13 points of his own, and added 2 of Villanova's 6 steals, and two of their 15 assists.
For Pittsburgh, forward Durand Johnson did some damage making 3-of-3 from deep in his 15 minutes of action and led the Panthers in 3-point shooting. Talib Zanna scored nine during the 5-minute overtime to help lead number-23 Pittsburgh in an overtime period where they outscored Nova 16-7.
The death-blow, however, came when James Robinson nailed an overtime dagger that put the game out of Villanova's reach, 64-69, with around 30 seconds left to play. The short time and 5-point deficit meant that the 'Cats needed to foul and cross their fingers for a miracle comeback — but the 'Cats had no such luck.
Shortly afterward, Yarou fouled out of the game, trying to stop the clock — shockingly the only player to be booted during the contest.
Zanna made his free throws and Villanova couldn't find it's shot.
The WIldcats are now in a position where they likely need a win this week at home against Georgetown to find themselves in position to expect a chance at an NCAA tournament bid on selection sunday. It will be crunch-time at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night, as the 'Cats look to get a 19th win overall, a 10th in Big East play and to add a some quality for their resume.