Feb. 20, 2005
By DAN GELSTON
AP Sports Writer
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Allan Ray hit five 3-pointers and scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half to lift No. 25 Villanova to an 80-72 win over No. 17 Pittsburgh on Sunday.
Curtis Sumpter scored 18 points, Randy Foye added 15 and Villanova went 12-for-23 from 3-point range, helping the Wildcats (17-6, 7-5 Big East) win for the eighth time in 10 games and bolstering their chances of making their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1999.
Ray's clutch three points late in the game weren't from behind the line, though. They came from a three-point play off a tough turnaround jumper with 1:05 left that stopped a 10-0 run by the Panthers (18-5, 8-4) and ended their chance at yet another comeback victory.
Aaron Gray, a 7-foot center, continued to get major minutes off the bench and scored a career-high 15 points for the Panthers. Carl Krauser had 16 points with six turnovers. Chris Taft added 11 points.
With a noticeable size difference thanks to Villanova's three-guard lineup, the Wildcats won by doing what they do best - shooting well from the perimeter. Ray hit three 3s during a 17-2 run early in the second half that turned a halftime deficit into a 12-point lead.
With Pitt ahead 43-30, Ray hit consecutive 3-pointers, then Sumpter added one and Kyle Lowry chipped in a three-point play during the game-changing spurt.
When Antonio Graves and Ronald Ramon answered the run with two straight 3s, Ray followed with another one - his fifth 3 in his first six attempts in the half.
But the Panthers, who seem to thrive when facing large deficits, never were never really out of the game. They rallied from 17 points down to beat both Syracuse and Connecticut in January and they beat the Orange a second time last week after being down eight points with 7 minutes left.
Trailing by 13 with 5:35 left against Villanova, the Panthers went 8-for-11 from the free throw line and got a fast-break dunk from Taft to pull to 71-68.
The Wildcats also went cold from the floor, missing eight straight shots until Ray came through with only his second 2-point bucket of the game. He went 7-for-16 overall.
As security surrounded the student section in the final seconds, the students mocked the opposition with chants of "It's Only Pitt!" and "Not An Upset!"
Security backed off and the fans stormed the court and wildly celebrated. Coach Jay Wright shook hands with fans on his way to a postgame television interview.
The Panthers shot 52 percent in the first half and Krauser banked a halfcourt shot as time expired, giving them a 36-34 lead.
Villanova earned its third win this year against a Top 25 team, all in similar fashion. Ray hit five of Villanova's 10 3s against West Virginia and he and Sumpter combined to make nine in a victory against Kansas.