Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New York Colleges [Print without images]

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Rapid Reaction: USF 70, Villanova 69

By Ian Begley



Recap | Box score | Photos

A quick take on No. 15 South Florida's 70-69 shocker over No. 10 seed Villanova in the first round of the Big East tournament on Tuesday evening at Madison Square Garden:

WHAT IT MEANS: Some felt the Wildcats, who were unranked for the first time all season in the latest Top 25 polls and had lost four straight to close out the regular season, needed a win in the first round to lock up an NCAA tournament bid. Now, they'll be sweating on Selection Sunday.

Villanova (21-11 overall, 9-10 Big East) seemed to be in control early on, taking a 16-point lead at the half. But the Bulls (10-22 overall, 4-15 Big East) rallied back late in the second stanza and Anthony Crater hit two layups in the final 22 seconds to give South Florida an improbable victory, its first in Big East tournament play.

Crater hit a layup with five seconds to play to put South Florida up one. Maalik Wayns' 18-footer hit the back of the rim and South Florida celebrated at midcourt, the first big upset of the tournament.

THE SKINNY: Wildcats coach Jay Wright called a timeout 44 seconds into the game after South Florida jumped out to a 5-0 lead. That didn't slow the Bulls, who took a 13-5 advantage on Shaun Noriega's 3-pointer. But the Wildcats outscored South Florida 44-20 over the next 15 minutes and used a 7-0 spurt late in the half to take a 16-point lead into the locker room.

Things got interesting when big man August Gilchrist's lay-up and subsequent free throw cut the Villanova advantage to 63-62 with 3:33 to play. With Villanova up one and 28 seconds to play, Wayns inexplicably tried to inbound to center Antonio Peña in the backcourt. The pass was over Peña's head and stolen by Crater, who converted a layup to put South Florida up 68-67. It was the Bulls' first lead since 9:10 to play in the second half. Crater then converted the lay-in with five seconds to play to seal it for South Florida.

STAR WATCH: Gilchrist, a 6-10 load, finished with 16 points and four rebounds and gave the Wildcats problems all evening, particularly after Nova 6-11 C Mouphtaou Yarou left late in the first half with an undisclosed injury after a collision under the basket. He did not return and was seen with a bandage on his right eye. Noriega finished with 22 points on 6-of-12 shooting from beyond the arc. Corey Stokes, who missed the regular-season finale with a hamstring injury, returned and scored 16 points off the bench Wayns had 24.

NUMBER CRUNCH: South Florida came into play tonight averaging an alarming (15.4) turnovers per game and turnover margin (minus-4.9). They had just eight on Tuesday night. In its final seven games of the season, Villanova shot 39.8 percent from the field and averaged just under 27 points in the first half. The Wildcats had 49 in the opening 20 minutes against USF, but they finished the game shooting an unsightly 4-of-19 in the second half.

WHAT'S NEXT: South Florida will face No. 7 Cincinnati on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Bearcats beat the Bulls 74-66 at Cincinnati on Jan. 12. South Florida has won four of the past eight meetings but is 7-22 against Cincinnati all time.