3-point at buzzer brings championship to Villanova in NCAA

Kris Jenkins’ three point basket at buzzer gives Villanova Wildcats their second NCAA title and prompts tears for North Carolina

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Villanova's Jalen Brunson (1), Mikal Bridges (25) and their teammates celebrate after the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game against North Carolina, Monday, April 4, 2016, in Houston. Villanova won 77-74.

Kris Jenkins buried a buzzer-beating three-pointer to lift Villanova to a thrilling 77-74 upset victory over North Carolina in the US college basketball championship game in Houston on Monday.

It was a fitting end to a springtime single-elimination competition known affectionately as "March Madness" for its regular upsets and last-second victories.

Jenkins' jump shot from distance splashed through the hoop with no time left on the clock, five seconds after Marcus Paige had rattled in an off-balance heave from outside the arc for the Tar Heels to tie the NCAA Final at 74-74.

The victory gave the Philadelphia-area university a second national title, adding to a 1985 upset victory over Georgetown.

Back-up guard Phil Booth led the winners with 20 points, hitting six-of-seven shots with backcourt mate Ryan Arcidiacono adding 16. Paige led North Carolina with 21 points with his fellow guard Joel Berry scoring 20.

Villanova's Phil Booth (5) celebrates after the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game against North Carolina, Monday, April 4, 2016, in Houston / AP.

Top seeds North Carolina, a double-digit winner in each of their five games en route to the final, held a 39-34 halftime lead in pursuit of a sixth title but the Wildcats battled back, going on a 33-16 run to forge a 10-point lead with 5:29 left.

Second seeds Villanova were denied a stroll to the finish by the desperate Tar Heels, whose fan section featured more than 50 former players, including Hall of Famer Michael Jordan, who as a freshman hit the winning shot in their 1982 title victory.

Using superior size to shut down access to the hoop, North Carolina (33-7) staged a fierce comeback, capped by Paige's desperation three-pointer that seemed likely to send the game to overtime.

However, senior guard Arcidiacono raced down the court and shoveled a pass to an open Jenkins, who pulled the trigger on a classic game-winner that sent ecstatic Villanova (35-5) players into a heap on the floor as confetti rained down.

Villanova basketball fans view a broadcast of the national championship between Villanova and North Carolina, Monday, April 4, 2016, in Villanova, Pa. / AP

After Paige's electric, game-tying three-pointer, Villanova coach Jay Wright called time to set up their final play.

"We put it in Arch's hands," Wright said. "It's Arch's job to make a decision. Arch made the perfect pass and Kris Jenkins lives for that moment."

Jenkins, nicknamed the Big Smooth, said, "I think every shot is going in. So that one was no different."

Arcidiacono, named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player, said: "It's an unbelievable way to go out. That's just something that everyone dreams about."

Teary-eyed North Carolina coach Roy Williams said: "I've been a head coach for 28 years and the worst thing is, with a loss like this I feel so inadequate because I don't know how to make it better."

TRTWorld, Reuters