No. 1 Vil­lanova over­comes Vir­ginia

Pawtucket Times - - SPORTS -

PHILADEL­PHIA (AP) — Josh Hart was on his back, saw the bas­ket­ball rest on the rim and won­dered how it got there as 20,000 fren­zied fans held their breath.

"I was like, 'Wait a minute, I thought I missed it,'" Hart said. He did miss the po­ten­tial win­ner. But in an en­gross­ing game stuffed with a March Mad­ness feel, it seemed fit­ting that Vil­lanova again won at the buzzer.

Donte DiVin­cenzo beat the horn on a timely tip-in for his only bas­ket of the game to lead No. 1 Vil­lanova to a 61-59 win over No. 12 Vir­ginia on Sun­day.

"I wasn't wor­ried about that," DiVin­cenzo said. "If it didn't go in, we had over­time. If it did go in, great."

The Wild­cats (20-2) stum­bled through their worst half of the sea­son be­fore they found their 3-point groove that fu­eled a sec­ond-half rally. Down 12 points with 10 min­utes left, the Wild­cats had the ball with 11.5 sec­onds left and the game tied. Hart drove the lane and missed his layup. DiVin­cenzo zipped down the base­line and tipped the ball in with his out­stretched right hand just as the horn sounded.

Af­ter a brief re­view, the bas­ket stood and the Wild­cats mobbed each other at cen­ter court.

Hart re­al­ized then who made the win­ner.

"I saw ev­ery­one run­ning to 'Te, I just started run­ning to 'Te, too," Hart said.

Vir­ginia coach Tony Ben­nett watched stone faced, arms folded and in stunned dis­be­lief. "Who tipped it in," Ben­nett asked. Just a player Wright once dubbed the Michael Jor­dan of Delaware.

DiVin­cenzo was left un­guarded, the Cava­liers seem­ingly sure Hart's miss would send the game to OT.

"I wish we would have checked him off and we would have been play­ing right now," Ben­nett said.

Vir­ginia brought a nice chunk of fans to the NBA's Wells Fargo Cen­ter and the crowd of 20,907 was the largest ever to see a col­lege bas­ket­ball game in Penn­syl­va­nia. Did it feel like March? "Hell yeah," Wright said. The na­tional cham­pion Wild­cats feel like they're ready for April and bol­stered their case for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tour­na­ment. The Wild­cats came off a loss at Mar­quette and avoided its firsttwo game los­ing streak in four years.

Jalen Brun­son and Mikal Bridges each scored 15 points for the Wild­cats. Ty Jerome led Vir­ginia (16-4) with 15 points in an ACC-Big East matchup that had a March Mad­ness feel from the open­ing tip.

The Wild­cats played noth­ing like Big East beasts for most of the first 30 min­utes.

Hart made his first bas­ket of the game with 7:52 left on a 3-pointer that cut it 49-42. DiVin­cenzo came up with a steal and fed to Kris Jenk­ins who buried a 3 for his first bucket of the game that pulled the Wild­cats within four.

Jenk­ins hit an­other 3 that gave Vil­lanova an 11-0 run and sent record into an ab­so­lute frenzy. Vir­ginia let the Wild­cats hang around and paid for it — Brun­son stepped to the free throw line and sank both to make it 50-49 and give them first lead since it was 2-0.

Jenk­ins' 3s helped make the dif­fer­ence.

"You know even­tu­ally he's go­ing to get one," Wright said. "And when he gets one, it's go­ing to come again."

The Wild­cats were out of sync in eas­ily their worst first half of the sea­son and maybe the worst in the last five years. They missed 18 of 22 shots from the floor and nine of 10 3-point­ers. Jenk­ins and Hart — the se­nior stal­warts that fu­eled the cham­pi­onship run — com­bined to miss all 13 shots from the floor and all eight 3s. The five Vil­lanova starters made only three bas­kets. Hart even fired one off the side of the back­board.

Jerome made three 3s that stretched the lead to dou­ble dig­its and had the "Hoos" drown­ing out the boos in­side a packed Wells Fargo Cen­ter. Jenk­ins, who won the na­tional cham­pi­onship with a buzzer-beat­ing 3 against North Carolina , missed all seven shots (six 3s) in the Mar­quette loss.

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