Villanova Men's Basketball
2009 NCAA Final Four
A 26-7 record earned Jay Wright’s squad a number 3 seed in the powerful East Regional of the 2009 NCAA basketball Tournament. With potential match-ups against Duke, UCLA and Xavier looming, along with number one seed Pitt, Villanova’s path to the Final Four seemed daunting. However, the veteran Wildcats had a relatively smooth ride with victories over American, UCLA and Duke by an average of 18.6 points in the first three rounds.
Pitt had a tougher time, besting Xavier by only six to set-up the Regional final match-up with the Wildcats. It was a brutally physical game with 15 lead changes, more like playground ball than a meeting of two of the Big East’s best.
Then, with about 5 minutes to play, both teams started making plays and hitting shots, with the Wildcats continuing their near-perfect free-throw shooting. Reminiscent of the Perfect Game to win the 1985 NCAA tournament, the Wildcats hit 22 of 23 from the line including 5of 6 in the last 46 seconds.
However, Pittsburgh's Levance Fields nailed two free throws with 5.5 seconds left to tie the game at 76. Reggie Redding, making up for a turnover on a full-court pass the previous inbounds play, hit Dante Cunningham this time. Cunningham dished to Reynolds then everything seemed to slow down, to slow motion.
Reynolds half-court drive and floater seemed to take forever as it sealed the win and punched the ticket to the Final Four and a date with North Carolina.
At the time, the subsequent 83-69 loss to eventual champions North Carolina was a painful way to end a 30 win season.
Now, in retrospect, with a mad dash and a couple dribbles, Scottie Reynolds sprinted into “all-time” status in the history of Villanova basketball as he sealed the victory over Pitt. It was one of the all-time great endings, in this or any other basketball town.
However, according to East Regional MVP Reynolds, it wasn’t as haphazard as it looked to the thousands in Boston’s TD Banknorth Garden and the millions watching on TV.
"In that situation, you have four dribbles and a shot. That's five seconds. That's why we practice that every day in practice so we can make an instinct play. We did that," Reynolds said. "It worked tonight. Only has to work once.