HOUSTON — Villanova junior Kris Jenkins buried a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give the Wildcats the second national championship in program history as they were able to hold off North Carolina with a thrilling 77-74 win on Monday night.
The Wildcats had a 10-point lead with 4:42 left in the game but North Carolina senior Marcus Paige (21 points) buried a double-pump, desperation 3-pointer to tie the game at 74 with 4.7 seconds left.
But Jenkins came down on the next possession after a timeout and calmly buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Wildcats the win in one of the greatest finishes in NCAA tournament history. Despite battling foul problems, Jenkins remained focused enough to knock down the winning shot as he finished with 14 points.
The Wildcats shot 58 percent (28-for-48) from the floor and 57 percent (8-for-14) from 3-point range as they overcame a five-point halftime deficit by playing like the tougher team down the stretch.
Despite improved outside shooting from North Carolina on Monday night, Villanova’s defense did a tremendous job of limiting interior touches and second-chance points, two specialties for the Tar Heels during the season.
Sophomore guard Phil Booth came off the bench to go 6-for-7 from the field and 2-for-2 from 3-point range as he finished with 20 points while senior guard Ryan Arcidiacono added 16 points to pace the Wildcats.
North Carolina (33-7) jumped out to a 39-34 halftime lead thanks to some hot first-half perimeter shooting as the Tar Heels went 7-for-9 from 3-point range. Sophomore guard Joel Berry II (20 points) was strong in the opening 20 minutes, scoring 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting. After scoring seven of Villanova’s first nine points, Arcidiacono didn’t attempt a field goal the rest of the half as the North Carolina defense did a tremendous job of taking him out of the equation, but got his offense going again in the second half.
Senior forward Brice Johnson tallied 14 points and eight rebounds for North Carolina as they shot 11-for-17 (64 percent) from 3-point range on Monday night after starting 0-for-13 and finished 4-for-17
Villanova ends the season at 35-5 as the Big East regular season champions had a dominant run through the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats scored double-digit wins over UNC Asheville, Iowa, Miami and Oklahoma (which was the biggest win in Final Four history) and were able to tough out a win over Kansas in the Elite Eight in the only NCAA tournament game where their offense wasn’t hot.