A half that would last an eternity.
After halftime, Villanova retook the lead with 13:28 on the clock, and it took Paige just 14 seconds to knot it back up. The Wildcats answered with a 3-pointer then went on a run of their own, elevating the lead to seven points.
The tension in the stadium was palpable. A classic finale was coming.
It gets fuzzy now.
There was a Paige corner 3-pointer to cut the lead to three. A well-designed half-court trap by the guards to force a turnover. Then a Paige missed layup, offensive rebound and successful kiss off the glass.
The Tar Heels were down by three with just 22 ticks left on the clock.
Then, it happened.
Paige made a shot so unbelievable that there are no words to describe it. There’s nothing to be said that would make it any more or less believable.
But it went in. A 3-pointer from beyond the arc tying the game at 74 with just 4.7 seconds left.
“You know, I just want to have the ball in my hands in that situation,” Paige said.
After a timeout, the ball was thrown into Ryan Arcidiacono. He ran the floor, tightly guarded by Joel Berry, before flinging the ball backward to Kris Jenkins.
Jenkins set his feet and fired a deep 3-pointer that was nothing but nylon.
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Confetti. Nets. Trophy.
A swing of emotions unmatched. A team with the hearts of lions. A defeat that will ache forever.
“I’ve never been as proud of a group as I am of this group right now,” Coach Roy Williams said.
“I just wish I could have helped them a little bit more.”