North Carolina too much for Villanova - East Valley Tribune: Sports

North Carolina too much for Villanova

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Posted: Saturday, April 4, 2009 8:43 pm | Updated: 2:58 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

There were no late-game thrills this time for Scottie Reynolds. There won't be again for Villanova in this NCAA tournament. Villanova's 3-pointers fell short — a dreadful 5-for-27 — and clanged off the rim, yet kept getting tossed up.

Michigan State defeats UConn 82-73

Final Four notebook: Curse of the Lions locker room strikes again

There were no late-game thrills this time for Scottie Reynolds. There won't be again for Villanova in this NCAA tournament. Villanova's 3-pointers fell short — a dreadful 5-for-27 — and clanged off the rim, yet kept getting tossed up.

Michigan State defeats UConn 82-73

Final Four notebook: Curse of the Lions locker room strikes again

The Wildcats abandoned their usual patient offense and their lockdown defense that was a staple of their Final Four run let up too many big baskets.

The 1985 Wildcats rooted on this year's team from behind the bench, but there was no repeat of that championship night in Villanova's 83-69 loss to North Carolina in the national semifinals on Saturday night.

"We've been getting better every game and we did not get better this game," coach Jay Wright said. "There were a number of reasons and the main reason is we probably just played a better team tonight."

Reason No. 2 had everything to do with the 3.

Reynolds was the worst offender from 3-point range, missing eight of his 11 attempts. He put Villanova in its first Final Four in 24 years with a winning layup against Pittsburgh last week, then failed to score against the Tar Heels in the first 9 minutes of the game.

He sure tried to help the Wildcats (30-8) keep up with a flurry of 3-point attempts. Lots of them.

All that meant was more misses and a bigger deficit.

"Coach kept saying to be on the attack and if your shot's there, take it," Reynolds said. "We weren't going to try and do anything different we've done all year. Carolina did a great job of contesting our shots."

Villanova nearly missed as many 3s (22) against North Carolina as total shots the '85 squad attempted against the Hoyas.

Those '85 Wildcats stunned Georgetown with a near-flawless 22-for-28 effort from the floor in the last title game played without a shot clock. And there was no 3-point line when 'Nova shocked the sports world.

"We're never worried about missing shots," forward Dante Cunningham said. "If they were going in, everyone would have been, 'Rah, rah, rah. Hey, hey, hey.'"

Former coach Rollie Massimino, and 1985 Wildcats Dwayne McClain and Ed Pinckney were are among the former players watching from the first few rows behind Villanova's bench.

Massimino talked to Wright hours before the Final Four and told the designer duds coach he wanted him to finally give the '85 team some company as national championship winners.

Instead, next season will mark 25 years without another banner in the rafters.

Reynolds missed a 3 on his first attempt of the game, and Dwayne Anderson followed with another clunker on the next possession. Anderson and Corey Fisher kept the misses going all the way until Reynolds sank the first 3 with 8:55 left.

Villanova's 3-point shooting had been its fatal flaw throughout the tournament, even as it knocked off a pair of elite programs in UCLA and Duke and a No. 1 seed in Pitt. They didn't make any more than 35 percent of their 3-pointers in any of their first four tournament games (only 22 percent against Duke).

The rim mic was cranked so loud the fans could hear every brutal miss all the way, way, way up in the cheap seats.

Reynolds, the dynamo point guard, sent the Philadelphia area into a basketball frenzy with his half-court race to the rim that made him the talk of Detroit all week.

He got frustrated early against a more athletic and veteran Tar Heels determined not to let any team stand in their path — or Reynolds scoot down the lane — for their chance to play Michigan State on Monday night. Reynolds missed a baseline 3, grabbed his own rebound, only to have North Carolina forward Deon Thompson block his shot from behind.

Still, the scrappy 'Cats inched within five early in the second half only to miss 11 — 11! — straight shots in a stadium that usually sees that kind of futility on the football field. Sure enough, six of those misses were on 3s.

Wide left, wide right, short. It was that kind of game.

The Wildcats got this far on a D that could ratchet up the pressure and rattle the best of the Big East teams. North Carolina was making nearly 70 percent of its shots on its way to a 17-point lead until the Tar Heels finally cooled off and took a 49-40 lead at halftime.

"We weathered the storm," Massimino said at the break.

Not even close.

The Wildcats did have the edge in rebounds (53-48) which helped them outscore the Tar Heels in the paint. Maybe that's where Villanova should have stayed focused. Cunningham, a senior forward who was easily the most improved player on the team, had 12 points and 12 rebounds and gamely tried to offset the miserable outside shooting.

"There's nothing wrong with failure, we gave it everything we got," Wright said.

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