Jenkins’ Buzzer-Beater Lifts Villanova to NCAA Championship

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Source: Washington Post

Source: Washington Post

It will go down as one of the greatest shots in NCAA history. To make it even more special: It was a shot to crown a national champion.

The Villanova Wildcats on Monday night defeated the North Carolina Tar Heels 77-74 after Kris Jenkins sank a buzzer-beating three pointer to take home their first national championship in 31 years.

With 4.7 seconds remaining, Nova inbounded beneath their own basket to Ryan Arcidiacono, who raced up court. Dribbling to the middle, Arcidiacono found a streaking Jenkins at the right wing with 1.4 seconds. Jenkins caught the ball and pulled up. With a hand in his face and .5 seconds remaining, Jenkins fired. The clock ticked to zero as the ball fell through the net. Jenkins just stood still, hands raised in the air as his teammates mobbed him with streamers falling all around them.

One defining shot had assured them immortality in basketball history. It was the first buzzer-beater in the championship game since Lorenzo Charles’ monumental dunk in 1983.

However, the stunning shot would not have been possible without a late surge from the Tar Heels, who just seconds before made their own spectacular basket to even the game at 74.

On the previous possession, the Tar Heels moved up the court with 13.5 seconds remaining. As seconds ticked away, the ball found it’s way into senior Marcus Paige’s hands. Paige had led the Tar Heels comeback, who had found themselves down by 10 late in the game. But the senior, whose leadership qualities were on full display, scored eight of the team’s final 10 points, including two clutch threes, one of which was the game-tying shot with just under five seconds remaining.

Before that, the Wildcats had seemingly put the game away.

The Tar Heels’ big man, Brice Johnson, struggled in the second half, and their offense cooled. Villanova continued their impressive offensive performance throughout the tournament, shooting over 58 percent for the game. The game was back-and-forth through much of the first half and at the start of the second. But much of that will be glossed over from here until eternity.

What will be remembered is Jenkins and the ball sailing through the net as the buzzer sounded. He will join the names of Christian Laettner, Tyus Edney, Tate George, and Charles. If you didn’t see the shot last night, don’t worry. You will. You’ll see it over and over and over again.

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