Ashton Gibbs scored 21 points and Gilbert Brown added 16 as No. 19 Pitt defeated No. 3 Villanova, 70-65, on Sunday afternoon at Petersen Events Center.
In front of the largest on-campus crowd in Pitt history (12,920), the Panthers (21-6, 10-4) improved to 6-0 against top-5 teams at the Pete.
Pitt used a 13-2 first-half run to take the lead for good in the first meeting between the two teams since Villanova (22-4, 11-3) defeated the Panthers, 78-76, in the 2009 NCAA East Region finals.
Center Gary McGhee had seven points and a game-high 10 rebounds and Jermaine Dixon scored10 points on 3 of 15 shooting, but added six rebounds, three blocked shots and three steals.
Scottie Reynolds, who hit the game-winning shot in last season’s Elite Eight game, finished with 20 points on 6 of 11 shooting. Corey Fisher scored 12 for the Wildcats, who have dropped three of five after a 20-1 start.
Pitt led by as many as 10 points in the first half and 29-23 at the break, but Nova pulled to within 34-32 five minutes into the second half. Antonio Pena’s put-back pulled Villanova to 51-49 Pitt with five minutes to play. Pitt got a big jumper from Gibbs and a layup by Brad Wanamaker to take a 55-49 edge.
Pitt managed only one field-goal in the final 3:30, a driving baseline dunk by Brown that put the Panthers up 60-54 with 1:26 to play. Pitt went 7 for 8 from the free throw line in the final 22 seconds after ‘Nova had cut the lead to 63-60.
Pitt finished 26 of 34 from the free-throw line, while Villanova was 11 for 16.