Villanova won the national championship with a miracle finish in 1985, and it pulled off another miracle Monday night to win it all once again – 31 years later.
In the final 4.7 seconds, Ryan Arcidiacono dribbled up the court and found Kris Jenkins with a perfect pass, enabling Jenkins to knock down the game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer and giving the Wildcats their second national championship in school history with an incredible 77-74 victory over North Carolina at NRG Stadium.
The second-seeded Wildcats (35-5) finished a magical run through the NCAA tournament with another explosive offensive performance and good defense, but they needed every ounce of fortitude after the Tar Heels (33-7), a No. 1 seed, came all the way back from a 10-point deficit to tie the game, 74-74, on Marcus Paige’s three-point basket with 4.7 seconds left.
Villanova coach Jay Wright called timeout to draw up a play that he described as “an end-of-the-game situation where we put the ball in Arch’s hands and let him make the decision.”
Arcidiacono went around a screen from Daniel Ochefu and then made the decision to pass to Jenkins.
“Kris told me he’d be open,” Arcidiacono said.
“I was like, ‘Ryan, Ryan, Ryan,’ ” Jenkins said. “When I get it, it’s going up. I always think it’s going in and this was no different.”
Jenkins released the ball with 0.5 seconds remaining and it swished through, touching off a wild celebration with players pouring off the bench and streamers and confetti being released from above in the cavernous football stadium.
Shortly after the players’ celebration began, Jenkins broke off and found his mother, Felicia. He stepped over a press table and got her in a long hug, tears flowing from both faces.