9:00 PM ET, March 9, 2006
Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
NEW YORK (AP) -- Pittsburgh's veterans had their usual solid games. It was the freshmen who stepped up in the Panthers' 68-57 victory over West Virginia (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today; No. 19 AP) on Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament.Sam Young, making his first start of the season, had 14 points and 11 rebounds in 32 minutes, while fellow freshman Levance Fields played 30 minutes in a reserve role and had 10 points and six rebounds as Pittsburgh (No. 16 ESPN/USA Today; No. 15 AP) continued a bad day for the higher-seeded teams.The sixth-seeded Panthers (23-6) will face No. 2 Villanova (25-3), which beat Rutgers 87-55, in the semifinals on Friday night. The Wildcats were the only one of the top four seeds to advance to the semifinals.Top-ranked Connecticut lost 86-82 to ninth-seeded Syracuse in overtime and fifth-seeded Georgetown beat fourth-seeded Marquette 62-59, meaning three of the four teams that received first-round byes lost in the quarterfinals.Young, a 6-foot-6 forward who came in averaging 7.7 points and 4.2 rebounds, started in place of junior forward Levon Kendall, who missed the game because of lower back spasms. Young finished 7-for-8 from the field and blocked two shots for the Panthers, who beat Louisville 61-56 in the opening round.Aaron Gray had 19 points and 15 rebounds for Pittsburgh, while Carl Krauser had 10 points, six assists and six rebounds. Krauser also provided some senior leadership."Carl had a look on his face [at halftime] and I didn't want to let him down," Young said. "I didn't want it to be a bad night."Krauser had words of advice before the game for the younger players."Oh, this is basketball, baby," Krauser said. "I look at them, I tell them 'This is basketball. This is what you've been doing all of your life. ... This is what you love to do. So go out there, play basketball, play hard and have fun.' These guys work hard, believe in each other and they're great teammates."Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon didn't sound optimistic about having Kendall back for the Villanova game."I don't think he's going to be able to play," Dixon said. "We'll see, but he couldn't even get out of the bed. He's a big part of us. We need him, he's our best defender."Kevin Pittsnogle had 22 points for the third-seeded Mountaineers (20-10), while Mike Gansey had 10 points despite missing the final 10 minutes of the games because of an abdominal muscle strain."When he dove for the ball he ended up getting stomach cramps," West Virginia coach John Beilein said. "Something cramped up in his stomach and he couldn't do much after that."West Virginia took a 31-24 halftime lead as the Panthers struggled against the Mountaineers' 1-3-1 zone. Pittsburgh did a better job of attacking the zone in the second half and Young scored on an offensive rebound to tie the game at 38 with 14:11 to play.That was the first of four ties the rest of the way and there were five lead changes. Pittsburgh took the lead for good at 51-49 on a drive by Fields with 6:41 to go.Pittsnogle, who was 5-for-11 from 3-point range, hit a 3 with 1:35 to go to bring West Virginia within 57-54. Krauser made two free throws with 1:21 left for a five-point lead and Patrick Beilein's 3, his only points of the game, got the Mountaineers within 59-57 with 1:09 left.Pittsburgh then closed the game with a 9-0 run, the first seven points on free throws and the last two on a dunk by Gray with 8 seconds left."It wasn't too much, it was a slight adjustment," Dixon said of the difference in going at the zone. "We wanted to keep Aaron a little bit more around the basket."West Virginia, which has lost six of nine overall, won three games in this tournament last season before losing to Syracuse in the championship game."For whatever reasons, we couldn't make some of the shots we made last year," John Beilein said. "It was a bad matchup for us as far as quickness on the perimeter today. They got in the lane too often. We had to give help and give up rebounding."Pittsburgh finished with a 44-25 advantage on the boards, 26-8 in the second half.This was 171st meeting between the schools -- they split two in the regular season -- which are 77 miles apart and West Virginia leads the series 92-79. It was their first postseason meeting since Pittsburgh beat the Mountaineers 79-72 in the Eastern 8 championship game in 1982.
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||25-57 (.439)||18-53 (.340)|
|3P Made-Attempted||4-13 (.308)||11-33 (.333)|
|FT Made-Attempted||14-16 (.875)||10-12 (.833)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||14 (0/0)||17 (0/0)|