Providence Defeats No. 1 Pittsburgh, 81-73
Feb. 24, 2009
PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island (AP) - Weyinmi Efejuku scored 16 and Providence upset No. 1 Pittsburgh 81-73 on Tuesday night for its first win over a top-ranked team in 33 years.
Sharaud Curry added 15 points for the Friars (17-11, 9-7 Big East), who picked up a big victory for their NCAA tournament hopes.
DeJuan Blair fouled out on a moving pick with 46 seconds left as Pittsburgh (25-3, 12-3) tried to rally.
Blair, the reigning Big East Player of the Week, averaged 21 points and 20.5 rebounds in wins over No. 1 Connecticut and DePaul that elevated the Panthers to the top spot on Monday. But he picked up two quick fouls - his third and fourth - midway through the second half.
He finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.
Providence led by 20 after completing a 17-1 run with the first basket of the second half, but the Panthers cut it to five points, 75-70, on Blair's putback with 51 seconds left. After Brian McKenzie hit a pair of free throws for Providence a fraction of a second later, Pitt brought the ball down and Blair was called for an offensive foul that sent the Friars back to the foul line.
It was the home finale - senior night - for Providence, which was coming off a 103-84 loss to Notre Dame that might have eliminated its chances of reaching the tournament. With a signature win and a game left against 15th-place Rutgers, the Friars may have played their way in.
The fans in the sold-out Dunkin' Donuts Center sensed it, crowding around the courtside press tables for the final minutes. Twice in the final minutes, the public address announcer begged the fans to stay off the floor following the game; twice the crowd responded with a laugh.
Sure enough, after the Friars dribbled out the last 20 seconds - it was too far gone for Pitt to try fouling - the fans went over the tables and chairs circling the floor and celebrated one of the biggest wins in school history.
The Friars are just 2-10 all-time against No. 1-ranked teams, with their only other victory against coming in double overtime against Michigan in 1976. This win made them 2-5 against ranked teams this season, having also beaten then-No. 15 Syracuse on Jan. 28.
Pittsburgh had won seven straight and beaten Providence eight times in a row. The Panthers won their first 16 games this season and spent two weeks in January at No. 1 before losing to then-No. 20 Louisville.
Providence opened with a 15-4 lead and led by 18 at the half despite making just one of its first eight 3-point attempts. The Panthers cut the deficit to 29-25 with 6:25 left in the half. But Providence scored 17 of the last 18 points before the break, getting Curry's 3-pointer with 44 seconds left in the first half and Efejuku's putback of his own miss on the first possession of the second to take a 46-26 lead.