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West Virginia hands Villanova its first loss

VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) -- West Virginia couldn't make Villanova miss
shots, so the Mountaineers forced the ball away from them.

Joe Herber scored 23 points and Kevin Pittsnogle had 22, leading West Virginia (Unranked ESPN/USA Today, No. 24 AP) to a 91-87 upset over No. 3 Villanova on
Sunday.

Mike Gansey added 21 points as the Mountaineers (10-3, 2-0 Big
East) beat their second top-10 opponent this season.

Randy Foye had 24 points and Mike Nardi scored 23 for Villanova
(10-1, 1-1). The Wildcats had 22 turnovers to offset a strong
shooting performance.

"I'm embarrassed about our defense when you look at the
numbers, but the turnovers allowed us to keep people off the
offensive boards and from getting putbacks," West Virginia coach
John Beilein said.

The Mountaineers came in as 11½-point underdogs, but fought back
from a 15-point deficit early in the second half.

Pittsnogle hit a 3 to cut Villanova's lead to 76-74 with under 5
minutes left and Herber made two free throws to tie it. After Allan
Ray missed a 3-pointer, Frank Young hit a jumper to give West
Virginia its first lead, 78-76, since the first half.

Herber's layup put West Virginia ahead 84-79 with 1:23 remaining
and Pittsnogle's hook shot made it 86-81. Foye made a 3-pointer to
cut it to 86-84.

A 3-pointer by Nardi got Villanova within 88-87, but Herber made
two free throws and Nardi committed a crucial turnover. Patrick
Beilein sealed it with a free throw.

Villanova shot 58 percent (29-for-50) from the floor, including
57.7 percent from 3-point range (15-for-26), but had trouble once
West Virginia started trapping on defense.

"They're the best in the conference at that," Wildcats coach
Jay Wright said. "Obviously, we've got to get better taking care
of the ball. There's two teams that have trapped us -- the last two
teams -- and we've turned the ball over.

"Even against Temple, another team that trapped a lot, we
turned the ball over. Even when we're winning, we've said we're a
work in progress. We still have to get a lot better. I think that
was proven today."

West Virginia, which beat then-No. 7 Oklahoma 92-68 last month,
has won eight in a row after losing three straight in late
November. The Mountaineers avenged a 38-point loss at Villanova
last year.

"Coming here and beating them, it was tremendous," Pittsnogle
said. "They were hitting incredible shots, but we can shoot with
anybody."

The Wildcats shot an astounding 71.4 percent (15-for-21) in the
first half, including 76.9 percent (10-for-13) from 3-point range,
to take a 46-37 lead.

Foye was 2-for-8 during the first half, while his teammates made
all 13 of their shots.

But West Virginia made key defensive adjustments early in the
second half after Nardi hit consecutive 3s to give Villanova a
52-37 lead in the opening minute.

"Anytime we got it, they really extended on me and Allan on the
wings," Nardi said. "A couple of times, I got trapped and had to
move the ball. I thought they really got out and didn't allow us to
get 3s."

The fired-up Mountaineers held a 20-18 lead in the first half.
But Shane Clark started a 7-0 run with a jumper. A 9-0 run put
Villanova ahead 40-29, and Foye later beat the halftime buzzer with
a 3-pointer.

Villanova could've moved up in the rankings with a victory
because Marquette beat No. 2 Connecticut 94-79 on Tuesday. The
Wildcats became the seventh team ranked in the top 10 of the AP
poll to lose in the past week.

"I thought we were prepared," Wright said. "I just give West
Virginia a lot of credit. They made more intelligent plays and
executed better longer in a great game."