NEWARK, N.J. - Of the homestretch of regular-season games for Villanova, Monday night's contest against Seton Hall was supposed to be the easiest because the Pirates came in with a nine-game losing streak, and the Wildcats were building momentum for a possible NCAA bid.
The Pirates, however, came out firing from three-point range, and their 13th three-point basket of the game shoved a dagger in the Wildcats' NCAA hopes.
James Bell lost the ball trying to beat a double team, setting up a three-pointer by Fuquan Edwin with 8.9 seconds to play that gave the Pirates an unlikely 66-65 victory before a stunned crowd at the Prudential Center.
The Wildcats (18-11, 9-7 Big East), who saw a three-game winning streak snapped, suffered what the NCAA selection committee is sure to consider a bad loss.
A 10th Big East win would have put Villanova in fine shape for an NCAA bid. More than 94 percent of Big East teams with at least 10 conference wins have earned berths in the tournament. Now the Wildcats will have to find a way to win against a pair of nationally ranked teams - Pittsburgh (away) and Georgetown (at the Wells Fargo Center).
The Cats allowed 10 or more three-point baskets for the eighth time this season. The Pirates (14-15, 3-13) connected on 13 of 21 (61.9 percent) from beyond the arc, and hit only seven baskets on 26 shots from two-point range.
"This was nothing we didn't expect," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "We have struggled guarding the three-point line all year. That's what happened in a game like that. The Seton Hall guards drove the ball. We couldn't keep them in front of us and when we helped out they kicked it out for threes."
The Wildcats appeared home free after a baseline jumper by Mouphtaou Yarou with 24.6 seconds to play gave them a 65-61 lead.
But the Pirates didn't give up. Edwin was fouled by Bell with 16.3 seconds remaining and sank two free throws to make it 65-63. The Wildcats then tried to bring the ball up against the Seton Hall press but Bell tried to dribble the ball between two defenders and lost it to point guard Tom Maayan.
Maayan flipped the ball to Edwin, and he knocked down the game-winner. Villanova called a timeout to set up a play for the win, but Ryan Arcidiacono's 18-foot jumper went off the front rim as the buzzer sounded.
"That was a high ball screen for Arch," Wright said. "But they doubled it and strung it out and Arch had to make the decision whether to shoot it or kick it out. I trusted him to make the decision."
Arcidiacono led Villanova with 16 points, with JayVaughn Pinkston adding 15 and Yarou 14 points plus 15 rebounds. The Wildcats connected on 25 of 27 free throws.
Aaron Cosby led Seton Hall with 21 points and Edwin chipped in with 18.
After Villanova took its biggest lead of the game, 58-53, on Pinkston's three-point play that ended a 7-0 run, the Pirates whittled the margin down to 60-59 on Edwin's layup with 2:27 to play. Villanova gave itself some breathing room on a three-point basket by Darrun Hilliard with 1:16 remaining, but Brian Oliver's two free throws at the 57.2-second mark narrowed the Wildcats lead to 63-61.