Villanova sputters in overtime loss to Pittsburgh

Ryan Arcidiacono's face says it all. His potential game-winning shot was blocked with 3.3 seconds left in regulation.
Ryan Arcidiacono's face says it all. His potential game-winning shot was blocked with 3.3 seconds left in regulation. (KEITH SRAKOCIC / AP)
Posted: March 04, 2013

PITTSBURGH - Working very hard in front of a frenzied sellout crowd, Villanova almost came up with a much-needed Big East victory over No. 23 Pittsburgh, one that would have solidified its chance of seeing its name on an NCAA bracket in two weeks.

But the Wildcats couldn't finish. Poor decision-making in the final minute of regulation Sunday allowed overtime, and the Panthers capitalized on the extra period to take control and grab a 73-64 victory at the Peterson Events Center.

The game was reminiscent of Monday night's disappointing loss at Seton Hall. The Wildcats (18-12, 9-8 Big East) again held the lead in the last minute of regulation - in this case by 57-54 with 59.5 seconds to play - but gave up a wide-open three and then were unable to get a good look on their final possession.

The difference here was this: Villanova had another chance to win in overtime, but James Robinson and Talib Zanna combined for 14 points in the extra period and the Panthers (23-7, 11-6) sent the Wildcats home more uncertain about their NCAA chances.

Villanova coach Jay Wright focused on the final second-half sequence:

Robinson, a freshman who hadn't made a three-pointer in seven games, hit a wide-open trey from the right corner to tie the score with 33.3 seconds to play.

Holding for a final shot, Ryan Arcidiacono drove to the basket, but his shot was blocked by Dante Taylor out of bounds with 3.3 seconds remaining,

Darrun Hilliard threw an inbounds bounce pass into the lane at Mouphtaou Yarou's ankles for a turnover.

"When you play in a Big East game, that's what it's going to come down to," Wright said. "You've got to get a stop at one end. We don't get the stop. We give up the three to Robinson. We were helping off him but we didn't want to give up an open shot. So that was poor execution. Then we don't get a shot off.

"You're not going to get many better opportunities than that - to get a stop to win and then you've got a chance to score."

The Wildcats, who fell to 0-6 in Pitt's arena, did not trail during the second half and led by as many as nine. After Pitt tied the game with 10 minutes remaining, Arcidiacono (23 points) nailed a three-pointer and a jumper to give 'Nova a lead it kept until Robinson's tying shot in the final minute.

"I was trying to make a play but ran into a big body, and he had his hands straight up," Arcidiacono said of his blocked shot. "Luckily we got the ball back, so I thought we could have had one there on the inbounds. I was just trying to force them to make a play."

Wright said there was contact on the blocked shot but added, "This is the Big East, we accept that."

The coach said the problem was more with his team's decision-making than execution.

"We did execute," he said. "We wanted to help off Robinson; we just helped too much. We wanted to look in to Mouph; we didn't want to throw a bounce pass. We ran everything the way we were supposed to; we just made poor decisions."

Robinson also connected on a big three in overtime after Arcidiacono's trey had pulled the Wildcats to within two with 58.6 seconds left.

The Wildcats get one more chance in the regular season Wednesday night against No. 7 Georgetown at the Wells Fargo Center.

"As the season goes on and you run out of games, they get tougher," Wright said. "But it's the season. You've got to bounce back and prepare for the next game."


Contact Joe Juliano at jjuliano@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @joejulesinq.

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