Sophomore guard Ashton Gibbs hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give No. 17 Pitt a 73-71 victory over Providence on Thursday night that assures the Panthers a top-four finish in the Big East.
Providence (12-17, 4-13), looking to snap an eight-game losing streak, had taken a 71-70 lead on Brian McKenzie’s free throw with 3.5 seconds left.
Gibbs, who finished with a game-high 25 points, took the in-bounds pass from Gilbert Brown and dribbled down-court to the top of the arc, where he nailed his sixth 3-pointer of the game over Providence guards McKenzie and Vincent Council.
The game-winner gave Pitt (23-7, 12-5) its third memorable finish at the Pete this season, following come-back wins against West Virginia in triple-overtime and Louisville.
Senior guard Jermaine Dixon had 24 points and 12 rebounds, both career-highs. Brad Wanamaker, who missed a six-foot floater with 5 seconds to play that could have put Pitt ahead, added 10 points and a career-high 13 assists for the Panthers, who improved to 19-3 against Providence in Pittsburgh.
Providence sophomore forward Jamine Peterson finished with 24 points and 18 rebounds for his Big East-leading 15th double-double. He had 12 rebounds, five offensive, in the second half.
Pitt, picked ninth in the preseason coaches’ poll, will draw a pair of byes in the Big East Tournament and open in the quarterfinals Thursday at Madison Square Garden.
Pitt, which closes out the regular season against visiting Rutgers (15-15, 5-12) Saturday, will be seeded either second, third or fourth in the 16-team Big East Tournament.
The Panthers will be:
• the No. 2 seed with a win over Rutgers and a West Virginia win at Villanova Saturday.
• the No. 3 seed with a win over Rutgers and a Villanova win over WVU, or wins by Villanova and Marquette.
• the No. 4 seed with a loss to Rutgers and a West Virginia victory over Villanova.