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Buzzer-beater pushes Notre Dame past UConn in women’s Final Four

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Each of the last two years UConn has entered the Women’s Final Four undefeated. And both teams the Huskies have lost due to late-game heroics by the opposition.

Friday night it was Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale who made the game’s biggest play, as her jumper with one second remaining gave the Fighting Irish the 91-89 overtime win in Columbus. Ogunbowale’s shot capped a 27-point night, and Jackie Young led the way for the winners with 32 points.

Next up for Notre Dame is Mississippi State, which beat Louisville 73-63 in overtime in Friday’s first semifinal matchup. Sunday’s title game will be a matchup of the last two programs to beat UConn, as Mississippi State beat the Huskies on a Morgan William jumper as time expired in last year’s national semifinals.

Ja’Quan Newton buzzer-beater gives Miami key road victory

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After going through a three-game losing streak, with two of those losses coming against a Boston College team that won’t be in the NCAA tournament and a Syracuse squad that’s currently on the bubble, Miami entered Tuesday’s game at No. 9 North Carolina on a two-game win streak. While Jim Larrañaga’s team was in good shape with regards to simply getting into the NCAA tournament, another marquee win would go a long way when it comes to the Hurricanes’ seeding.

Enter Ja’Quan Newton, whose three-pointer from just inside of the mid-court line as time expired gave Miami a 91-88 win over the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill.

Newton’s game-winner capped a wild final 9.2 seconds, a sequence he began with two made free throws to give Miami an 88-85 lead. Joel Berry II would hit a three over Newton’s outstretched hand to tie the game with 4.1 seconds remaining, but Newton had one last play to make. Not only does the win boost Miami’s NCAA tournament profile, but it also keeps the Hurricanes in the conversation for a double-bye in next week’s ACC tournament.

Newton’s shot was the game’s biggest play, but on a night in which six players scored in double figures the Hurricanes did not lack for contributors. Chris Lykes, who may be one of the ACC’s most exciting freshmen, scored a game-high 18 points and dished out four assists. While the 5-foot-7 freshman did commit five turnovers, he’s willing to go out and look to make plays which is a big deal with Bruce Brown out with a foot injury.

Counting Tuesday’s performance Lykes has now reached double figures in six of Miami’s last seven games, giving Miami another perimeter scoring option. Dewan Huell added 14 points and eight rebounds, and Lonnie Walker IV 13 points, with D.J. Vasiljevic and Ebuka Izundu combining to score 22 points off the bench.

Izundu, who entered Tuesday’s game averaging 4.8 points per game on the season, scored all 12 of his points in the first half as Miami took an eight-point lead into the half. While the progression of Lykes has been key over the last month or so, Izundu’s play over the last three games is worth noting as well. The 6-foot-10 junior chipped in with 14 points and eight rebounds in last week’s win over Notre Dame, and if Izundu can continue on this path he gives Miami another interior option they can rely on consistently.

With Bruce Brown not expected to return until some point during the NCAA tournament, Miami’s margin for error is even smaller than it was with the talented sophomore on the court. But when it receives solid efforts across the rotation as it did Tuesday night, Miami’s capable of being a handful.

Offensively the Hurricanes were able to work their way into the paint against North Carolina, outscoring the Tar Heels 36-24 in the paint and shooting 54.8 percent from the field and 11-for-20 from three. Add in 20 points off of 13 North Carolina turnovers, and Miami did the work required to put itself in position to leave Chapel Hill with the win. Things got interesting late thanks to North Carolina’s comeback, but the Hurricanes had one last play to make.

And Ja’Quan Newton rose to the occasion, with the senior guard spoiling the night for North Carolina’s senior class.

Ball State’s Tayler Persons hits another game-winning three

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When the chips are down in games involving Ball State, it’s a given that Tayler Persons is going to end up with the basketball in his hands.

Tuesday night the redshirt junior hit his third game-winning three of the season, as his shot with seven tenths of a second remaining gave the Cardinals a 59-56 win over Bowling Green.

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Persons’ first two game-winning threes came in back-to-back games, as he beat then-No. 9 Notre Dame and Valparaiso.

VIDEOS: Fan reactions to Villanova’s win over North Carolina

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While No. 2 Villanova had plenty of fans make the trip to Houston from various points across the country, there were also those who remained on campus to watch the action. The school hosted a watch party at The Pavilion, and as one would expect the night produced some images that will be remembered for years to come.

Below are two videos of the fan reactions to Kris Jenkins’ game-winning three, with the first including the call from Villanova play-by-play announcer Ryan Fannon courtesy of WPVI-TV Philadelphia.

And here’s another high-quality reaction, although it did not take place at The Pavilion.

VIDEO: Jay Wright’s reaction to the Kris Jenkins game-winner

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Kris Jenkins’ three-pointer as time expired gave No. 2 Villanova a 77-74 win over No. 1 North Carolina in Monday’s national title game, the program’s second national title. But for as stunning as the finish was for many who watched it all unfold, beginning with Marcus Paige’s incredible double-clutch three with 4.7 seconds remaining, one key figure didn’t seem stunned at all.

That person was none other than Villanova head coach Jay Wright. As he watched Jenkins rise up for the game winner the head coach simply said “bang,” and he didn’t have much of a reaction after the fact either.

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Never in doubt.

Credit: The Cauldron

VIDEOS: Villanova wins second national title on wild sequence

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After two duds in Saturday’s national semifinals, No. 2 Villanova and No. 1 North Carolina produced a national title game we won’t soon forget.

The Wildcats won 77-74 on a Kris Jenkins three as time expired, but his heroics came 4.7 seconds after North Carolina’s Marcus Paige hit a double-clutch three to tie the game.

And here’s the game-winner from Jenkins, who’s earned the nickname “Big Smooth” from his teammates, with Villanova winning its second national title in program history. The first came in 1985, when the Wildcats knocked off Big East rival Georgetown.