78-76. That's what the final scoreboard read. But with just over five ticks remaining in the Elite Eight matchup between Pittsburgh and Villanova, the clutch Panthers point guard, Levance Fields, is fouled with his team down 76-74.
Both free throws hit nothing but net as Fields ties the game at 76.
This is when a championship team finds a way to win.
This is when a championship player finds a way to the rim and senior Villanova guard, Scottie Reynolds, did just that.
Reggie Redding inbounds the ball with five seconds left to Dante Cunningham who immediately dumps it off to Scottie Reynolds soaring up the right sideline. He gets by four Pitt defenders and bumps the fifth in the lane as he lifts the ball toward the rim and, most likely, begins to pray.
After kissing the front of the rim, his prayer is answered, Jay Wright's prayer is answered, and Nova Nation's prayer is answered.
The Villanova Wildcats of Philadelphia have just knocked off the Pittsburgh Panthers 78-76 to earn a spot in Detroit, Michigan, to face the winner of UNC-Oklahoma in the Final Four.
The Wildcats have proven over the past four tournament games that they can win any type of game: a last possession game (Pittsburgh), overcoming a deficit (American), or just flat out domination (UCLA/Duke).
All-Stars like Scottie Reynolds and Dante Cunningham seem to always step up. But on any given night, any of six Villanova players can be a star. 'Nova is a team of experience young men that both know how to play their role and how to score when needed.
Head Coach Jay Wright's "let them play" attitude allows his players to mature and learn for themselves, which seems to work pretty well. While it seems overused, Wright truly does have an entire roster of team-first players, who do whatever the game or situation calls for.
We know specifically from last year's championship game that free throw shooting is critical in these final games. Well, 'Nova shot the lights out from the charity stripe hitting 22 of 23 foul shots.
This is an all around team and, while the faces on TV may not be talking about it, the Wildcats have the depth, inside play, shooting, spirit, teamwork, and the coach to win it all.
Many are saying that "UConn has been the most impressive team," or "UNC is unstoppable," but no team has been as simultaneously impressive and entertaining as Villanova.
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