Rutgers stuns No. 9 Villanova with four-point play

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Rutgers stuns No. 9 Villanova with four-point play

Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Posted: 10:08 p.m. Updated: 11:36 p.m.

By Reuben Frank
CSNPhilly.com

BOX SCORE

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Jay Wright: I dont think we crumbled.

Actually, crumbled is exactly what Villanova did.

The Wildcats led Rutgers by 13 points with 4:07 left. They led by nine with two minutes left. They led by five with 11 seconds left.

And still they lost 77-76 on Jonathan Mitchells four-point play with 0.8 seconds left in the game.

Rutgers scored 60 points in the games first 37 minutes and 17 in the final 2:41. Rutgers shot 2-for-10 from three-point range in the first 36 minutes and 6-for-7 in the final four minutes.

Rutgers scored seven points in the games final seven seconds.

Tough way to lose a game, Wright said. Down the stretch, we didnt execute. Three-possession game, youve got to make the right decisions, the right plays. We didnt. When youre down nine, youve got to make all the right plays and the right decisions, and they did.

No. 9 Villanova led 67-54 with just over four minutes left before Rutgers woke up. The Scarlet Knights outscored the Wildcats 23-9 the rest of the way.

The Wildcats, who beat Rutgers by 16 on campus on Jan. 2, fell to 19-5 with their fourth loss in their last seven games.

Rutgers, which had lost four straight, improved to 13-11, 4-8 in the Big East and 1-5 against top-20 teams.

The last four or five possessions of the game, we didnt do anything right and they did everything right, Wright said. They made every correct play. Turn over the ball, give up threes, turn over the ball, give up threes. If we dont turn it over one time, were OK. If we turn it over and they dont make one of those threes, were still OK.

As ugly as things were down the stretch for Nova, Corey Fisher still had a chance to put the game away at the foul line with six seconds left, but after he missed the first and made the second, Novas lead was just three.

Wright elected not to foul and send Rutgers to the foul line, a decision he immediately regretted.

Talk about poor decisions -- I made one there, Wright said. We talk about it all the time. Thats one of those times you say, We should have fouled.

With under two seconds left, James Beatty swung the ball to Mitchell beyond the arc on the right wing. Fisher tried to deny the pass to Mitchell, and while his hand was still out in front of Mitchell, the 6-foot-7 senior forward squared up and released his shot.

Fishers hand smacked Mitchells hand, the ball sailed through the net, and just like that, the game was tied.

After a 'Nova timeout, Mitchell sank the foul shot, Villanova couldnt get a shot off, and the Rutgers faithful had their first chance to storm the court since the Roy Hinson Era.

I went to the line and could have won the game, Fisher said. I was confident, but I missed the first, made the second, and we knew they were going to try a three, because there wasnt time for them to go for two.

As I was going to deny Mitchell, the ball was in his hands, and when I was denying, he went up in my hand, made the tough shot, went to the free-throw line and made the shot.

Im a captain on this team, and I think we should have won the game, said Fisher, who had 23 points and 10 assists. I made a mistake, but were going to learn from it, and Im going to continue to get better as a player.

Wright said he had no problem with the way Fisher defended on the possession. He said Fisher did exactly what he was supposed to do.

I dont think it was a mistake, he said. I would say if it was. Youre supposed to deny there. If he went and whacked him, I would say, but he wasnt going to contest the shot, he was trying to deny the pass, the pass went over his hand, his hand was there, and to go through a hand and finish that play is a pretty tough play.

Mitchell finished with a game-high and career-high 25 points, including four in the final second.

I always tell myself, I always want to take the last shot, Mitchell said. I want the game on my shoulders. I just let it fly and the shot went in. Definitely the biggest shot of my life.

After I hit the shot, I couldnt believe it went in. I had to calm down and relax and tell myself, Hey, just another night in the gym when nobodys here and the lights are off. I stepped up as a senior should and hit the free throw.

Villanova lost despite shooting 56 percent from the field (24-for-43) and 50 percent from three-point range (8-for-16).

The Wildcats hurt themselves at the foul line, where they made just 20 of 27 shots. Thats from the No. 9 team in Division I in free-throw shooting.

Corey Stokes, battling turf toe, scored 10 points in the first half but only played eight minutes after halftime and didnt take a shot. He wasnt on the floor during Rutgers comeback.

Antonio Pena made seven of 10 shots for 15 points and added eight rebounds, and Mouphtaou Yarou contributed 10 points and five boards for Nova.

Im obviously disappointed in the outcome, but were going to have to learn from this, Wright said. Even if we won the game, if he doesnt make that 3, we still have a lot to learn from the way we finished that game. Its tough, but its part of playing in the Big East. Youve got to come back.

I thought we played well, we just didnt execute down the stretch, and if you dont execute down the stretch, in this league, youre going to lose.

I dont think we crumbled. I just think they made some great plays.

Things dont get any easier for Villanova, which hosts No. 4 Pitt Saturday night at the Pavilion.

We got Pittsburgh on Saturday, and its a tough team, and were going to go back to practice and learn from our mistakes, Pena said. It is tough, but weve just got to look forward to our next game. Big East, every team is going to come in and play.

Related: Big East Wrap: St. John's knocks off No. 10 UConn Green's triple-double leads Michigan State over PSU

E-mail Reuben Frank at rfrank@comcastsportsnet.com

Big 5 Hall of Fame inducts 'maybe the greatest class we've ever put together'

Big 5 Hall of Fame inducts 'maybe the greatest class we've ever put together'

About midway through Monday night's Big 5 Hall of Fame ceremony, the oldest inductee of this year's class paid homage to the youngest.

That's how much hoops legend George Raveling, a 1960 Villanova graduate, was blown away by Penn alum Ibrahim Jaaber's impassioned speech that ended with a powerful poem about how basketball saved him.

"It kept running through my mind that you represent everything good about sports," Raveling said to Jaaber. "And I hope you'll continue to use your wisdom, your influence, to make the game better, to make the world better. As a 79-year-old-man, soon to be 80 in June, I want to tell you that if I come back in the next life, I want to be like you."

That touching moment, in many ways, was a perfect encapsulation of the ties that bind the Big 5, from one generation to the next. But aside from Raveling and longtime Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter Bill Lyon -- who, despite battling Alzheimer's, courageously gave an acceptance speech to a standing ovation at the Palestra -- this year's class was filled with contemporary guards who clashed in some great Big 5 games not too long ago.

Among them were two current NBA players in Saint Joseph's icon Jameer Nelson (class of 2004) and former 'Nova star Randy Foye (2006), as well as Temple's Lynn Greer (2002) and Jaaber (2007). La Salle women's player Carlene Hightower (2008) was the other member of the star-studded class defined by tough, gritty Philadelphia guards.

"The inductees here for the Hall of Fame have got to be maybe the greatest class we've ever put together," said Villanova head coach Jay Wright, who closed the night by accepting the Big 5 Coach of the Year award right after Josh Hart took home Player of the Year honors. "I grew up in Philadelphia and we always talk about what a great place the Palestra is -- and it is. But when you listen to Lynn, Randy, Coach Rav, Ibby, Jameer, you know why this is a great place. It's because of all the great man that have played here -- outstanding, humble, articulate, intelligent men that understand they're part of something that's bigger than themselves. That's what makes the Big 5. That's what makes the Palestra."

Nelson, the National Player of the Year during St. Joe’s historic 2003-04 season, certainly showed what kind of person he is, inviting all of his old Hawks teammates who were in attendance to stand behind him as he accepted his Hall of Fame award. And he even choked up at one point as he described what those teammates, coach Phil Martelli and Saint Joseph's University have meant to him as he's forged a long and fruitful NBA career.

"Without them, none of this would be possible," said Nelson, the Hawks' all-time leader in points (2,094) and assists (713). "These guys mean the world to me."

Nelson, now with the Denver Nuggets, just wrapped up his 13th season in the NBA, calling it an "unbelievable ride" for a 5-foot-11 kid from Chester. That's two more years spent in the league than Foye, who Nelson thanked for forcing him to be better back in their college days. He also called Greer one of his "great friends" and said that Jaaber's speech "touched me in so many different ways, I wish more young kids could hear it."

"I'm very grateful to be inducted with you guys," Nelson said, although he did point out that when he was at St. Joe's, the Hawks had Villanova down 43-9 at halftime one year. 

"But those next couple years, we payed y'all back," said Foye, now with the Brooklyn Nets, during his own speech.

Those rivalries were especially meaningful to Foye, who also played against Jaaber in both high school and college.

"Being from North Jersey, you never hear about the Big 5," said Foye, a first-team All-American and Big 5 Player of the Year in 2006. "For me coming here and witnessing it up close and personal, it's just something truly amazing."

Foye added that everywhere he goes, he tries to embody what a Philly guard is -- "small but play big," as he put it -- while reminding people that he's proud to be a Villanova alum. The same can be said of Raveling, a longtime college coach and executive who was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.

"I'm so proud to say I'm a Big 5 product -- and a proud graduate of Villanova University," Raveling said. "I look back many times and realize the wisest decision I ever made in my lifetime was to enroll at Villanova University."

Just as he opened his speech, Raveling also closed it by saying he was "proud" to enter the Big 5 Hall of Fame the same year as Jaaber, whose remarks touched on spirituality, family and a unique journey from Morocco to New Jersey to Penn.

Jaaber also made sure to thank the person who perhaps embodies the Big 5 more than anyone else: former La Salle player, former Penn coach and current Temple coach Fran Dunphy.

"I don't think I could have had a better coach for me in my situation than my Coach Dunphy," said Jaaber, the 2006-07 Big 5 Player of the Year and the all-time Ivy League leader in steals (303). "I'm almost embarrassed to be inducted into the Hall of Fame before Coach Dunphy."

Archbishop Wood basketball star Collin Gillespie signs with Villanova

Archbishop Wood basketball star Collin Gillespie signs with Villanova

Archbishop Wood's Collin Gillespie, the Philadelphia Catholic League's MVP, has signed a national letter of intent to attend Villanova and play for Jay Wright.

Gillespie, during his senior year, averaged 24.1 points per game. The 6-foot-2 guard lead Archbishop Wood to their first Catholic League title in school history and followed that up with a PIAA State Championship game victory -- also a first for the school. Along with the league MVP, Gillespie was named Player of the Year by the Philadelphia Daily News.

"We are excited to have Collin and his family join the Nova Nation," Villanova coach Jay Wright said in a statement. "Collin comes from a great program at Archbishop Wood and has been well prepared by John Mosco. His guard skills, basketball IQ and winning instincts will be a welcome addition to our program."

Gillespie will join previously announced signees Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree (Neumann-Goretti High School in Philadelphia) and Jermaine Samuels (Rivers School, Weston, Mass.) in Villanova's class of 2021.