Anthony Crater's two layups in the final minute capped a 16-point second-half comeback, giving the University of South Florida a 70-69 win over Villanova in the first round of the BIG EAST Championship on Tuesday night in New York City. With the program's first-ever win over Villanova, USF advances to the second round of the tournament vs. Cincinnati on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET.
After a pair of Hugh Robertson free throws with 27 seconds remaining cut the Villanova lead to one, Crater stole an inbounds pass near the USF basket and scored to give the Bulls their first lead since the 9:10 mark of the first half at 68-67.
Villanova's Maalik Wayns hit two free throws on the Wildcat's ensuing possession, but Crater took the inbounds pass the length of the court and scored the game-winning basket with just over five seconds to play. Villanova's last-second attempt missed to give the Bulls their second BIG EAST tournament win in as many years.
Crater finished the game with just six points, but he also notched seven assists and the two biggest baskets of USF's season. Shaun Noriega led the Bulls with 22 points on the strength of a career-high tying six threes. Augustus Gilchrist added 16 points, while Jawanza Poland scored 11.
USF trailed 49-33 at the half despite coming out of the locker room shooting well. The Bulls scored on their first six possessions, including four threes from Noriega, to open a 16-8 lead early in the game. Villanova would eventually even the score at 26 before closing the half on a 23-7 run thanks largely to a 16-of-27 shooting effort (62.7 percent) from the field.
USF lost the regular-season meeting between the two schools 83-71 on Jan. 6 at the Sun Dome in Tampa, Fla. Cincinnati beat the Bulls 74-66 on Jan. 12 in Cincinnati.
The Bulls are now 2-2 in the BIG EAST tournament and 18-29 all-time in conference tournament play.
- The USF starters were Anthony Crater, Shaun Noriega, Jawanza Poland, Jarrid Famous and Augustus Gilchrist. It was the first time the lineup was used by head coach Stan Heath. Hugh Robertson had been the only Bull to start every game this season, but he came off the bench vs. Villanova to score six points.
- Since joining the league for the 2005-06 season, USF is 2-2 in the BIG EAST Championship. USF is 18-29 all-time in four different conference tournaments.
-The win was USF's first vs. Villanova in six meetings since the Bulls joined the BIG EAST in 2005.
- USF outrebounded Villanova 26-21 and has outrebounded its opponent in 25 of 32 games this season.
- Augustus Gilchrist scored 16 points, and has scored at least 10 points in all but seven games this season, including six straight.
- Shaun Noriega hit six threes in the game and has hit multiple threes in 11 games this season. He tied his career high for threes in a game, originally set vs. Notre Dame on Feb. 12, 2011.
-Jawanza Poland scored 11 points, his 17th double digit scoring performance of the year. Poland shot 4-of-8 from the field.
- Anthony Crater has at least five assists in 14 games after posting seven assists vs. Villanova.
- Ron Anderson Jr. has at least five rebounds in 22 games after grabbing five vs. Villanova.
Check out photos from the Bulls big win!
South Florida's Shaun Noriega (22) drives past Villanova's Maalik Wayns (2) during the first half at the Big East Championship, Tuesday March 8, 2011, in New York. Noriega scored 22 points as South Florida won the game 70-69. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
South Florida's Shaun Noriega (22) reacts after a three point basket during the first half of the Big East Championship at Madison Square Garden, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
South Florida's Jawanza Poland (5) drives past Villanova's Isaiah Armwood (34) during the first half of the Big East Championship. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
South Florida's Augustus Gilchrist (24) protects the ball from Villanova's Isaiah Armwood (34) and teammate Maurice Sutton during the first half of the Big East Championship. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
South Florida's Anthony Crater (10) drives past Villanova's Maurice Sutton (25) during the first half of the Big East Championship. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
South Florida's Augustus Gilchrist (24) blocks a shot by Villanova's Maalik Wayns (2) during the second half of the Big East Championship. South Florida won 70-69. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Villanova's Maalik Wayns, right, reacts as he is helped up by teammates Antonio Pena (0) and Dominic Cheek (23) as South Florida's Anthony Crater (10) and Hugh Robertson (34) celebrate after Villanova lost 70-69. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
South Florida head coach Stan Heath, right reacts as South Florida's Ron Anderson Jr. (1) celebrates after the win against Villanova at the Big East Championship. South Florida won 70-69. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)