Junior guard Anthony Crater didn't score many points (six), or a lot of good decisions (four turnovers), but when the USF Bulls needed a playmaker Tuesday night he was just that. Crater scored the game-winning 2-point bucket with seven seconds remaining to help No. 15 South Florida Bulls upset No. 10 Villanova Wildcats, 70-69, in a first-round Big East conference contest at Madison Square Garden. The Bulls, who earned their first victory in the Big East Tournament and against Villanova (21-11), advance to play in the second round against No. 7 Cincinnati Bearcats at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.
USF (10-22) trailed 49-33 at halftime, but chipped away at the 16-point deficit and pulled within two points, 57-55, with 8:30 remaining. The Bulls stayed close and got within one point, 63-62, with 3:33 to go after junior forward Augustus Gilchrist converted a 3-point play.
From there, 'Nova just couldn't shake USF and the Bulls took a 68-67 lead with 22 second to go after Crater stole an inbound pass from 'Nova's sophomore guard Maalik Wayns and converted a layup. The Wildcats reclaimed the lead, 69-68, after Wayns made two free throw with 12 seconds remaining, but Crater went end-to-end and made a slashing layup to end the Bulls' Big East postseason troubles.
Sophomore guard Shaun Noriega, who tallied a team-best 22 points, made five first-half 3-pointers for USF, which opened the contest with a 16-8 advantage. The Wildcats responded by outscoring USF 28-7 in the remaining nine-plus minutes of the first half to take the sizable lead at halftime.
Senior guard Corey Stokes has scored 16 first-half points in the first half, but went scoreless in the second. Wayns netted a game-best 24 points, while senior guard Corey Fisher added 15 points. The Wildcats have lost five straight games and seven of their last nine.
Statistically, Villanova shot 20-of-45 (44.4-percent) from the floor, 7-of-17 (41.2) from behind the 3-point arc. USF finished 21 for 47 (44.7) on field goals and 7 for 18 (38.9) on 3-pointers. USF won the rebound margin, 26-21.