Pittsburgh defeats Villanova 79-70The ball gets away from Pittsburgh's J.J. Moore (44) and Villanova's JayVaughn Pinkston as they vie for a rebound in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
PITTSBURGH (AP) Travon Woodall scored a career-high 29 points and Ashton Gibbs added 25 to lead Pittsburgh to a 79-70 win over Villanova on Sunday, its fourth straight win.
The Panthers (15-9, 4-7 Big East) led by as many as 18 in the second half, though the Wildcats (10-13, 3-8 Big East) were able to trim that lead to three on a pair of Jayvaughn Pinkston free throws with 22.3 seconds left.
Villanova, losers of three straight, couldn't get any closer.
Woodall then snared a long pass and made the layup while Ty Johnson was called for an intentional foul. Woodall hit both free throws to seal the game.
Maalik Wayns led Villanova with 18 points, with Dominic Cheek adding 13 and Mouphtaou Yarou 12. Dante Taylor added nine points for Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh, which has used improved shooting to win its previous three games, struggled at the outset.
The Panthers made just one of their first eight shots - a game-opening 3-pointer by Lamar Patterson - and trailed 21-16 with 7:19 left in the first half. But Pitt would recover from that early slump to hit 12 of its next 15 shots and sprint away on a 22-2 run.
Both Gibbs and Woodall drilled a pair of 3's during the run, and when Taylor was fouled on a dunk and made the ensuing free throw, the Panthers took a 38-23 lead. Pitt took a 40-28 halftime lead into the locker room despite committing nine turnovers and allowing the Wildcats to pull down 10 offensive rebounds.
Villanova, which missed its first six shots of the game, couldn't match the Panthers' hot shooting. The Wildcats shot just 30.3 percent in the first half (10 of 33), including 25 percent from 3-point range (2 of 8). Wayns, the team's top scorer, made just 3 of 10 first-half shots.
After shooting 53.8 percent in the first half (14 of 26), the Panthers struggled in the second, shooting just 32 percent (8 of 25). But Pitt hit 27 of 31 free throws for the game, compared to 18 of 23 for Villanova.