It was a battle between two former conference foes in Friday’s NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game between Villanova and Boston College at the Metrodome.
The top-seeded Wildcats were looking to advance to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1988 while the fourth-seeded Eagles were looking for their first regional championship appearance since 1994.
In a game that saw only three lead changes – all in the final eight minutes of regulation and overtime – Villanova picked up the 60-59 overtime win on the back of senior guard Randy Foye.
“I know it wasn’t a pretty game, but that was a great college basketball game,” Wildcats coach Jay Wright said. “We are very, very fortunate and proud to beat that team.”
It was Boston College (28-8) that jumped out to a surprising 9-0 lead thanks to seven quick points by junior guard Sean Marshall.
While the Eagles were knocking down nearly every shot they took to start the game, the usually sure-shooting Villanova squad couldn’t buy a bucket.
The Wildcats’ two leading scorers – Foye and fellow senior guard Allan Ray – were held to just one point in the first 14:33, and were a combined 0-for-9 from the floor, missing all eight of Villanova’s three-point attempts.
“When shots are falling and you are playing good offensively, it is easy to win,” Ray said. “But Ö the real great teams find a way to win when you are not making shots.”
Villanova ripped off a 15-3 run to close the half, starting with Ray’s only field goal of the half – a deep jumper from the far corner – and ending with a Foye floater with four seconds left.
As the two teams headed to the locker room at the break, Boston College held a 28-24 lead.
The second half began the same way it ended for the Eagles – with no one hitting any shots.
That was until Marshall broke the field-goal drought with a jumper from just inside the three-point line with 16:09 left in the game to give Boston College a 31-28 lead.
The Eagles held the lead for most of the second period, pulling ahead by as many as nine points, 43-34, with just less than 10 minutes remaining in the contest.
But Villanova wasn’t about to let its national championship dreams slip away without a fight.
Foye gave Villanova a three-point advantage with 44.2 seconds after hitting a fall-away jumper along the baseline.
But Eagles’ junior forward Jared Dudley responded with a clutch three to tie the game at 51-51 with 28.4 seconds left.
“I was trying to get the stop, obviously,” said junior forward Will Sheridan, who had a hand in Dudley’s face. “I got off him for a second and he got a good look Ö he made it and it was a big-time shot.”
Villanova had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, as sophomore guard Kyle Lowry took a wide-open three-pointer from the far wing, but had it blocked by sophomore big man Sean Williams who came flying out from the middle of the lane to deflect the shot.
“Sean made a great defensive play,” senior forward Craig Smith said. “We felt the game was going towards us, going our way.”
Thanks to a clutch baby hook in the lane by Smith, Boston College grabbed a 59-58 lead with 12.2 seconds left in the overtime period.
The Wildcats brought the ball down court and Foye had it knocked away from him while driving the lane, giving Villanova the ball out of bounds underneath the basket with 3.5 seconds left.
As the Eagles defenders followed Ray on the inbound play, Sheridan found himself open under the basket for the lay-in.
The shot actually was knocked away by Williams, but the referee called a goaltending violation on Williams, giving the Wildcats the two points and the 60-59 overtime victory.
“I thought I made it to be honest,” Sheridan said. “Then they blew the whistle and I saw goaltending.”
While Sheridan’s shot was the game-winner, it was the play of Foye that gave Villanova the victory.
The senior guard played all 45 minutes of the contest, scoring a game-high 29 points.
“I never thought about taking him out,” Wright said. “I said to myself, ‘We are going down with him.’ “