2009 NCAA Tournament: East Regional Elite 8 Recap
Villanova tops Pittsburgh 78-76 to advance to Final Four
East Regional Championship @ TD Banknorth Garden, Boston
No. 3 Villanova (30-7) 78 - No. 1 Pittsburgh (31-5) 76
Key Moment: Villanova guard Scottie Reynolds' driving layup with 0.5 seconds to play lifted the Wildcats to their first Final Four since their national championship season in 1985.
High Point Scorers: Villanova -- Dewayne Anderson 17, Pittsburgh -- Sam Young 28
Analysis: Arguably the game of the year in college basketball and one of the best in NCAA tournament history. Where do you start? At last count, there were eight lead changes and 15 ties. First, Villanova took the lead for what was considered for good on an Anderson 3-pointer with 1:50 to play. The Wildcats, who were 22-of-23 (95.7 percent) at the free throw line, had a four-point lead in the last 20 seconds. But a DeJuan Blair layup and Levance Fields' two free throws on Villanova's mistake on an inbounds pass tied the game at 76 with 5.5 seconds to play. But Reynolds took the ball across the court and split the middle of the paint and made the layup.
Ecstasy for Villanova. Heartbreak for Pittsburgh, which had not been to the Final Four since 1941. You couldn't have asked for better from Pittsburgh's top two in Blair and Sam Young. Blair was 9-of-9 from the field for 20 points. Young went 10-of-17 from the field.
This turned into the Classic Big East game with the Panthers and Wildcats each throwing punches. If there was any downside for Pittsburgh is that Fields was only 2-of-9 from the field. For the Wildcats, they had great balance with Reynolds (15), Anderson, Dante Cunningham (14) and Shane Clark (11).
No lead in the second half was greater than five. And any time, a side had a chance to try and extend, the defense came up with a stop. Even after Reynolds' layup, it still wasn't over. Fields' 65-foot heave hit the backboard and fell to the floor. The fact that shot was even that close probably served the game proper justice.
Villanova now moves on the Final Four in Detroit and will get the winner of the South regional between North Carolina and Oklahoma in one national semifinal.
By Kevin Lonnquist
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