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SPORTS
March 23, 2015 | By Bob Ford, Inquirer Columnist
PITTSBURGH - The game Villanova hoped would never arrive - the one in which shots refused to fall and an athletic opponent exposed the Wildcats' vulnerability around the basket - showed up unexpectedly Saturday night. Things happen just that quickly in the NCAA tournament, and now Villanova is out, having lost, 71-68, to a North Carolina State team so unpredictable it went two months without winning back-to-back games. The Wolfpack were plenty consistent against Villanova, however, but the outcome was built from bricks at the Wildcats' offensive end. Villanova always needs good play on the perimeter, and the three-point shot is a large part of the offense.
SPORTS
March 23, 2015 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
PITTSBURGH - This was the year Villanova was supposed to wipe out the memories of past failures and finally get over the hump to make it to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament for the first time since its Final Four season of 2009. The Wildcats had missed as a No. 2 seed twice - in 2010 and last season. Certainly their chances for advancing to the Sweet 16 would be better as a No. 1 seed. But instead of moving on, the Wildcats are going home. They suffered through one of their worst shooting games of the season and were unable to come up with key defensive rebounds down the stretch Saturday night in a 71-68 upset loss to No. 8 seed North Carolina State in an NCAA East Regional third-round matchup at Consol Energy Center.
SPORTS
March 22, 2015 | By MIKE KERN, Daily News Staff Writer kernm@phillynews.com
PITTSBURGH - In 2010, after Villanova lost to St. Mary's in its second game in the NCAA Tournament as a No. 2 seed, Jay Wright talked about how that wouldn't be such a good thing at a lot of schools. But by that point, he'd certainly banked more than enough credibility chips on the Main Line: four trips to the second week in the previous five seasons, including one run to the Final Eight and a spot in the national semifinals in 2009. And all four times, the Wildcats had been eliminated by the eventual champion.
SPORTS
March 22, 2015 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
PITTSBURGH - Villanova's players, coaches, and staff sat in a hotel meeting room after their victory over Lafayette, watching television and waiting for their next opponent in the NCAA East Regional to step forward. North Carolina State hung around Thursday night until one-tenth of a second remained to take that step when BeeJay Anya's shot in the lane lingered on the rim and dropped in for his team's only lead of the second half. The 66-65 win over Louisiana State meant a third-round matchup Saturday night against the top-seeded Wildcats at Consol Energy Center.
SPORTS
March 22, 2015 | By Mike Jensen, Inquirer Columnist
PITTSBURGH - Villanova center Daniel Ochefu was just playing, not really aware of the numbers on the scoreboard. "Their coach called a timeout," Ochefu said, and so he looked up at the board Thursday at the Consol Energy Center, kind of focused in, and was surprised to see Villanova up by "26 or 28," the senior said. "A nice little run. " Villanova takes off on those nice ones so often they almost seem scheduled. It wasn't just Lafayette that fell victim in its NCAA East Regional mismatch.
SPORTS
March 22, 2015 | By Bob Ford, Inquirer Columnist
PITTSBURGH - As long as the NCAA continues to hold a basketball tournament at the end of the season - and it seems likely that will continue for a while - the loop of historical highlights will always include the final moments of both the 1983 and 1985 championship games. Lorenzo Charles of North Carolina State will forever rise up in front of Akeem Olajuwon of Houston to gather in Dereck Whittenburg's desperation air ball and drop it through the net. Jim Valvano will run endlessly around the court, arms outstretched, wondering what he is supposed to do next.
SPORTS
March 21, 2015 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
PITTSBURGH - Villanova has an opponent for Saturday's third-round NCAA East Regional game, and it's not the team that trailed for 19 minutes, 59.9 seconds in the second half. Sophomore forward BeeJay Anya hit an eight-foot hook shot in the lane with one-tenth of a second to play Thursday night to propel eighth seed North Carolina State to an unlikely 66-65 victory over Louisiana State in the second game of a doubleheader at the Consol Energy Center. The Wolfpack (21-13) trailed by as many as 16 points in the second half and by 62-48 with 9:15 to play.
SPORTS
March 21, 2015 | By Bob Ford, Inquirer Columnist
PITTSBURGH - Villanova didn't fall off the cliff on Thursday night. Some day, some year, there will be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament that misjudges the edge and tumbles against a No. 16 seed, but it wasn't the Wildcats this time, this year. Beyond that, nothing was determined during Villanova's 93-52 win over an outmatched Lafayette team that couldn't solve its problems at either end of the floor. The NCAA run might have started Thursday for Villanova, but there was no danger of its ending.
SPORTS
March 21, 2015 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
PITTSBURGH - Jay Wright says he had good reason for concern going into top-seeded Villanova's matchup against No. 16 Lafayette in its opening game of the NCAA East Regional, even if a 16th seed never had defeated a No. 1 since the tournament went to 64 teams in 1985. Still, no matter how much apprehension he felt, Wright saw his Wildcats come out Thursday night and play as well as he hoped they would. They raced out to a 21-point lead in the first 14 minutes and rolled to a 93-52 victory over the Leopards at the Consol Energy Center.
SPORTS
March 21, 2015 | By Mike Jensen, Inquirer Columnist
PITTSBURGH - With all the problems Lafayette had to deal with, stone walls around the inside, that grab bag of Villanova shooters around the perimeter - another one appeared at the scorer's table, making it practically a pile-on. Villanova's eighth player to check in, a guy who played less than all the others in Thursday's first half of their NCAA East Regional opener, was the one who took care of things for good. One moment, Lafayette fans who had filled Section 111 of the Consol Energy Center almost as soon as the doors opened were looking at a best-case scenario, their Leopards practically sticking around.
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