HOUSTON (AP) — One good shot deserved another. Kris Jenkins of Villanova wasn’t about to be outdone.
Jenkins overcame the shock of watching North Carolina’s Marcus Paige hit a double-clutch 3 to tie it by spotting up behind the right side of the arc and draining a 3 of his own at the buzzer to lift Villanova to a 77-74 victory and the national championship Monday night.
What a shot — and what a game.
The second-seeded Wildcats (35-5), had a six-point lead with 1:52 left, but watched it slowly trickle away. Then, it was gone, when Paige jumped — and when Ryan Arcidacono started running at him — double clutched and pumped one from beyond the arc to tie the game at 74 with 4.7 seconds left.
After a timeout, Arcidacono worked the ball upcourt and got it to Jenkins, who swished it from about two steps behind the 3-point line.
“Kris told him he was going to be open, Arch made the perfect pass,” Villanova coach Jay Wright explained. “Kris lives for that moment.”
A few moments later, Jenkins was leaping over press row, hugging his family and shouting: “They said we couldn’t, they said we couldn’t, they said we couldn’t.”
Oh yes, they could.
It’s Villanova’s first title since 1985, when Rollie Massimino coaxed a miracle out of his eighth-seeded underdogs for a victory over star-studded Georgetown.
Hard to top this one, though.
Jenkins, who was adopted by the family of North Carolina guard Nate Britt, now has a spot with Keith Smart, Lorenzo Charles and anyone else who ever made a late game-winner to win the whole thing.
Paige finished with 21 for the top-seeded Heels (33-7), who came one agonizing shot short of giving coach Roy Williams his third national title.
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