Villanova's wild ride through the Big Eat continues as they lose their third game in five tries.
Rutgers trailed the Wildcats by 13 with five minutes remaining Wednesday night before getting back in the game and within three points with seconds remaining. An improbably four-point play courtesy of Jonathan Mitchell with 0.8 seconds left capped the comeback, giving Rutgers the 77-76 upset victory.
Mitchell finished with a career-high 25 points and six rebounds while James Beatty added 15 points for the Scarlet Knights (13-11, 4-8 Big East), who ended a four-game skid in dramatic fashion.
Corey Fisher poured in 23 points and handed out 10 assists while Antonio Pena supplied 15 points and eight boards for the Wildcats (19-5, 7-4), who were temporarily denied a school-record seventh straight 20-win season.
Trailing 70-60, Dane Miller and Mike Coburn each made one free throw before back-to-back triples from Mitchell and Beatty trimmed the lead to two with 1:39 remaining.
Freshman James Bell canned two foul shots with 58.8 ticks left before Miller's tip-in with 46.3 seconds to go brought the hosts back within a pair.
After Fisher tracked down his own miss, Bell drained a left-wing trifecta that extended the lead to five with 11 ticks to go only to see Beatty respond with one of his own less than five seconds later to keep the margin at a deuce.
Fisher hit 1-of-2 at the line before Rutgers brought the ball down the floor with no timeouts left. Beatty drove to the top of the key and fed Mitchell, who knocked down the tying three from the right wing and was fouled in the process. Following a timeout, he calmly sank the decisive free throw.
Villanova's long inbounds pass to the other end of the floor did not result in a shot, leading the home crowd to storm the floor in celebration.
Mike Poole scored seven straight points for the Scarlet Knights to bring them to within 48-44 with 12 minutes to play. Villanova eventually pushed its lead to 64-51 after an 11-2 spurt.
Trailing 5-4, Villanova went on a 7-2 run to take the lead for all but the final seconds with just over 15 minutes remaining in the first half.
The Wildcats pushed the lead to as many as nine on four occasions and took a 35-28 lead at the intermission.
Mitchell made 8-of-19 shots, including 3-of-7 from beyond the arc...Beatty was 5-of-9 from long distance as he and Mitchell accounted for all of Rutgers' makes from three-point territory...Miller totaled 12 points while Poole ended with 11...Fisher moved past Jonathan Haynes into 10th place on Villanova's all-time assist with 453 and joined Scottie Reynolds as the only players in program history to record 1,000 points and 450 assists...Fisher connected on 7-of-12 shots, including 5-of-7 from long distance, while Pena hit 7-of-10... Villanova shot 56 percent from the floor...The Wildcats lead the all-time series, 26-9.