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Jan. 18, 1998

Wildcats Fall in Overtime

VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) - What seemed so difficult for No. 21 West Virginia over the first 40 minutes seemed so easy for the next five.

After shooting 33 percent in regulation, the Mountaineers went 5-for-6 and scored on 10 of their 11 possessions in overtime to pull away to a 79-65 victory over Villanova on Sunday.

"Coach just looked at us and said somebody had to step up," said Damian Owens, who did just that, scoring six of his 21 points in overtime.

"We didn't force anything like we did in the previous 40 minutes," he said. "We just took better shots and crashed the boards hard."

The Mountaineers (15-3, 5-3 Big East) outscored the Wildcats 12-2 over the first four minutes of overtime to seal the victory.

Coach Gale Catlett said the fact that he has a bigger bench to draw on than Villanova coach Steve Lappas was a difference.

"We've been playing a lot of guys, and they were pretty fresh," Catlett said. "We started moving the ball a little more and switching sides and getting penetration."

Villanova (7-8, 4-3) missed four foul shots in the extra period and was 5-for-18 from the line for the game. Howard Brown led the Wildcats, losers of three straight, with 15 points.

"There's nothing you can do about it," Lappas said of his team's poor foul shooting. "Usually we shoot good free throws."

West Virginia shot only 37 percent, but took 83 shots and outrebounded Villanova 57-39 in winning for the 10th time in its last 12 games.

"We got to the boards a lot because the way we had been shooting, everybody knew we'd miss, so they'd go right to the boards," Catlett said.

After Malik Allen tied the game at 62 with 3:19 to play, West Virginia went on a 10-0 run. Brian Lewin, who had 12 rebounds, scored four points during the clinching spurt, and Owens, who had 11 rebounds, added three.

The game stayed tied at 60 for the final 2:21 of regulation, as both teams missed several chances to go ahead.

The Wildcats had the ball with 14 seconds left, but John Celestand threw it away with 2.8 to go. The Mountaineers inbounded the ball to Owens, but he never got a shot off before the buzzer.

A layup by Brent Solheim tied the game at 51, and the Mountaineers went on a 7-2 spurt to go ahead 58-53 with 6:11 to go.

But Villanova answered with their own 7-2 run, with Allen's bank shot tying the game at 60 with 2:21 to go.

Trailing 19-18, the Mountaineers hit four straight 3-pointers, with Jarrod West hitting the first and Greg Jones the others, to take a 30-19 lead with 4:09 left in the first half.

Villanova outscored West Virginia 10-4 over the final four minutes of the first half, but still trailed 34-29 at halftime.

Before the game, Villanova retired the No. 30 jersey worn by the school's career scoring leader, Kerry Kittles of the New Jersey Nets. Kittles scored 2,243 points for the Wildcats from 1992-96.