Villanova Tops North Carolina 77-74 on Jenkins’ Buzzer-Beater

Kris Jenkins is one of those players who believes every shot is going in.

Sometimes, it feels so right to be right.

The Villanova junior answered a double-clutch, game-tying 3-pointer by North Carolina’s Marcus Paige with a buzzer-beating 3 of his own Monday night to lift the Wildcats to a 77-74 victory and the national championship Monday night.

One good shot deserved another.

And Jenkins wasn’t about to be outdone.

“I think every shot’s going in,” he said, “and this one was no different.”

“I didn’t have to say anything in the huddle,” he said. “We have a name for it, that’s what we’re going to do. Just put everybody in their spots.”

He knew the shot was going in, too.

Oh yes, they could.

This adds to the title Villanova won in 1985, when Rollie Massimino, who was on hand Monday night, coaxed a miracle out of his eighth-seeded underdogs for a victory over star-studded Georgetown.

Hard to top this one, though.

“Bang,” Wright said as he watched it fall, then calmly walked to shake Carolina coach Roy Williams’ hand.

Jenkins finished with 14 points — the last three as memorable as any that have been scored in the history of this tournament.

After being thrown to the floor by his teammates, he got up, leaped over press row, hugged his birth mom — a college basketball coach who helped him hone his shot — and shouted, “They said we couldn’t, they said we couldn’t, they said we couldn’t.”

Jenkins, who was adopted by the family of North Carolina guard Nate Britt when his mother moved to take a coaching job, now has a spot alongside — and probably above — Keith Smart, Lorenzo Charles, Christian Laettner and everyone else who ever made a late game-winner to win a big one in March Madness.

2016 NCAA Tournament: Best Moments2016 NCAA Tournament: Best Moments

Paige finished with 21 and Joel Berry II had 20 for the Heels (33-7), the only No. 1 seed to make the Final Four. They came one agonizing shot short of giving Williams his third national title.

Not surprisingly, the tears flowed from the 65-year-old coach who, some speculate, could have worked his last game on the sideline; the entire sports program at Chapel Hill is under NCAA scrutiny and awaiting possible penalties for a long-running academic-fraud case.

“I’m not very good because I can’t take away the hurt,” Williams said. “I told them I loved them. I told them I wish I could have helped them more.”

His thought when he saw the last shot fly: “It was helpless. It was not a good feeling.”

Even MJ felt the pain. In the stands with the thousands of Carolina Blue-wearing fans, Michael Jordan simply nodded, smiled, looked at his buddy Ahmad Rashad and said, “Good shot, good shot.”

March Madness Courtside: Fans, Mascots, CheerleadersMarch Madness Courtside: Fans, Mascots, Cheerleaders

Not this time.

Before Jenkins did his thing, it was unheralded sophomore Phil Booth — who isn’t unheralded on that Villanova squad? — pouring in a career high 20 points to give the Cats their late six-point lead.

Booth forced a turnaround jumper with the shot-clock blaring to give ‘Nova a 69-64 lead at the 3:03 mark. With 1:52 left, a free throw from Josh Hart pushed the lead to six.

High praise from the Great One. And what a night for Villanova (35-5) — a second-seeded team full of scrappers, grinders and also-rans, who proved you don’t have to have a roster full of NBA-bound one-and-doners to win a title. More people in the ESPN bracket contest picked ‘Nova to lose to a No. 15 seed in the first round than to win the whole thing. This team flamed out early in the last two tournaments despite big expectations.

But Carolina never quits. Paige sandwiched a 3-pointer and a putback around a bucket from Brice Johnson (14 points, eight rebounds) to help the Tar Heels stay within striking range. Then, he took a bounce pass, scooted by the diving Ochefu, twisted past Arcidiacono and hit his double-clutch.

Carolina fans went wild, and it looked like overtime.

This time, the senior point guard made an underhanded flip to Jenkins, who spotted up a pace or two behind the arc and swished it with Carolina’s Isaiah Hicks running at him. Or, as Jenkins put it: “One, two step, shoot ’em up, sleep in the streets.”

Jenkins had to come up big after Paige collected a pass on the top right side of the arc and, with Arcidiacono running at him, double clutched and pumped it in to tie the game at 74 with 4.7 seconds left.

Only, it wasn’t.

“If I could get a shot, I was going to shoot it,” said Arcidiacono, who finished with 16 points and two assists, one more memorable than the other. “But I heard someone screaming in the back of my head. It was Kris. I just gave it to him and he let it go with confidence.”

The shot came on a play Villanova works on every day in practice: Jenkins inbounds the ball to Ryan Arcidiacono, he works it up court and forward Daniel Ochefu sets a pick near halfcourt to clutter things up, then Arcidiacono creates.

It completed a Carolina comeback from six points down with 1:52 left.

Coach Jay Wright called timeout and called the play the Wildcats have worked on all season.

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College Student Found Dead After Watching NCAA Game

Mikey McGinley went out to watch the Villanova Men’s Basketball Team defeat Oklahoma Saturday night. Hours later, the Drexel student and former star athlete at Malvern Prep was found dead at a friend’s home in Northern Liberties.

The 22-year old’s death was accidental and caused by “drug intoxication,” Jeff Moran with the Philadelphia medical examiner’s office confirmed Tuesday afternoon.

McGinley was small, muscular, lean, Schiller remembers. Tenacious.

Schiller recounted what he’d pieced together about McGinley’s weekend:

When friends returned from breakfast, McGinley wasn’t breathing.

Friends shared their grief and memories of McGinley on Facebook.

Drexel sent LeBow students a notice of McGinley’s passing “at an off-campus apartment in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia” and offered counseling services to students and condolences to McGinley’s family and friends.

A funeral Mass is being held for relatives and friends Saturday, April 9 at Mother of Divine Providence Church, 333 Allendale Rd., King of Prussia, Pa. at 11:00 am. Viewings for Mikey McGinely are at the church Friday evening from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday morning from 9:00 to 10:50 a.m.

In McGinley’s obituary, in lieu of flowers, the family encouraged people to make memorial contributions in Mikey’s memory to Malvern Prep Water Polo c/o Malvern Prep Development Dept., 418 S. Warren Ave., Malvern, Pa. 29355-2707 or online via the Malvern Prep Friar Club.

“He was a bulldog once he got in the water,” Schiller said. “He holds our single season school records for blocked shots (28 — an average of one per game) and steals (116 or about 4 per game). These key defensive statistics for a young man who was 5′ 7″ and weighed about 130 pounds speak to his tenacity as a player. His peers who have gone on to play water polo at the collegiate level are 6′ 3″ to 6′ 6″ and easily weigh 200+ pounds. However, he also scored 81 goals his senior season so he was certainly not a one dimensional player.”

McGinley, who was studying at Drexel’s LeBow College of Business, went out with friends Saturday night to watch the Villanova game. He slept over at a friend’s apartment with some other folks. In the morning, the others went out for breakfast. Mikey stayed in. He was still sleeping. Snoring.

“Just a fun kid, the kind you would love to have on your team, love to have as a friend,” Schiller said. “Almost everyone I have spoken to over the last 24 hours or so are crushed by the news of his passing but are quick to smile with a memory of him as a student or as an athlete.”

McGinley’s death left friends and family devastated, according to Jay Schiller who coached McGinley in a stellar water polo career at Malvern Prep.

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