MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Villanova had struggled to emerge from its nonconference basketball slate with a winning record, and things didn't get any easier Wednesday night.
The Wildcats dropped their Big East opener at West Virginia, 83-69, and fell to 7-6 overall.
'Nova has lost six of its last nine games after beginning the season with four consecutive victories.
"I thought we played hard and gave good effort, but we didn't do all of the things we have to do to win," Villanova coach Jay Wright said.
Wright's squad was competitive for most of the game but could not match West Virginia's perimeter prowess in what could be the Wildcats' final trip to Morgantown for the foreseeable future.
West Virginia has announced its intention to leave the Big East to join the Big 12 in 2012-13, a move that is subject to pending litigation.
Villanova started fast with baskets by Mouphtaou Yarou and JayVaughn Pinkston, and traded leads with the Mountaineers until Kevin Jones' jumper gave the hosts a 27-25 advantage with 5 minutes, 19 seconds remaining in the first half.
However, stellar play by guards Dominic Cheek and Maalik Wayns (13 and 10 points, respectively, in the first half) kept the Wildcats within striking distance at 40-36 heading into the intermission.
The second half saw more back-and-forth play between the backcourts, including four lead changes, culminating with senior guard Darryl "Truck" Bryant's three-pointer to give West Virginia a 55-53 lead midway through.
Ultimately, Bryant and freshman guard Gary Browne sealed the victory for the Mountaineers (10-3) in their conference opener.
After Wayns arced a jump shot over Bryant to tie the score at 63 with a little less than six minutes to play, Bryant responded with a pair of free throws, a steal that resulted in a Browne three-pointer, and a three-pointer of his own to give the Mountaineers a 71-65 lead with 3:33 remaining.
Bryant and Browne combined for 12 more points in the game's final three minutes to provide the margin of victory.
"Overall, I felt like we played well enough to win," Wright said. "But when you allow a senior playmaker like Bryant to do what he did at the end, you won't like the result."
Bryant led the Mountaineers with a career-high 34 points, while Kevin Jones added 13 points and seven rebounds.