Feb. 23, 2005
By DAN GELSTON
AP Sports Writer
VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) - Villanova's fans may have to stop storming the court. After all, wins over ranked teams are suddenly becoming routine for the Wildcats.
Randy Foye scored 23 points and the 23rd-ranked Wildcats survived a 9-minute stretch without a field goal to beat No. 3 Boston College 76-70 on Wednesday night.
The enthusiastic fans stormed the court like they have for two other home wins over Top 25 teams, chanted "Tournament!" and shook hands with coach Jay Wright.
"We're learning how to win," Wright said. "It gives them confidence and experience that's invaluable."
The Wildcats (18-6, 8-5 Big East) beat their fourth Top 25 team of the year, including a win over then-No. 2 Kansas last month, and bolstered their chances of making their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1999.
"We were confident we could come in and play well, but we're still not thinking about the NCAAs," said Curtis Sumpter, who played with a sore knee and scored 18 of his 20 points in the first half. Kyle Lowry added 11 points for the Wildcats.
Craig Smith led a second-half rally for Boston College (22-2, 11-2) and finished with 18 points, while Jared Dudley had 15.
The Wildcats, coming off a win over then-No. 17 Pittsburgh on Sunday, used 70 percent 3-point shooting in the first half to take a halftime lead they stretched to 13 points early in the second half. When Jason Fraser made a layup at the 13:15 mark, the Wildcats led 57-47 and seemed in control.
The Eagles - who rallied from halftime deficits to win eight times this season - started their run while Villanova went into a field goal drought that stretched just over 9 minutes.
Steve Hailey capped a 12-2 spurt with a 3-pointer that pulled the Eagles to 62-60 with 6:23 left.
Foye banked a 6-footer for a 67-64 lead, ending the long stretch without a field goal. The Wildcats never lost the lead thanks to 8-of-10 free throw shooting during that span. They were 36-of-41 overall from the line.
"It's very difficult to win a game when the opposing team shoots 41 free throws," Boston College coach Al Skinner said. "We just didn't make the plays that were going to tie it and make them feel uncomfortable. We never got over the hump."
No, but they gave the Wildcats a scare.
Hailey pulled BC to 67-66 with a jumper, but fouled out on the next possession. He finished with 11 points.
Foye pushed the lead to 73-68 with an arcing baseline jumper that nearly skimmed the shot clock on the way down. Then, the Wildcats sealed it from the line.
"It was right there for us," Skinner said.
Last month, it was the Eagles who made the plays down the stretch and escaped with a 67-66 win over the Wildcats.
This time, Villanova made BC pay for its mistakes, scoring 20 points off 13 Eagles' turnovers and holding a 35-24 rebounding edge.
"You've got to find different ways to win against great teams," Wright said.
The Wildcats played without starting point guard Mike Nardi, who sprained his right ankle in practice Monday. They got another scare midway through the first half when Sumpter, who already plays with a brace on his left knee and tape on his right one, came up limping when he was fouled and momentarily left for the locker room.
"I wasn't able to run or jump or explode like I did in the first half," Sumpter said. "It's not serious, just a little twinge."
Still, the Wildcats hit the 3, going 7-for-10 in the first half.
Foye used three 3-pointers and two free throws to score 11 straight points for Villanova. Then Sumpter hit two 3s during a 12-0 run that put the Wildcats up by 12. After Sumpter drilled his second 3 from the top of the arc, the sellout crowd erupted as loud as it has been all year.
Lowry, who replaced Nardi, made a nifty play near the end of the first half, poking the ball free from Jermaine Watson and then making two free throws for a 43-36 lead.