One good shot deserved another.
Kris Jenkins of Villanova wasn’t about to be outdone.
Jenkins overcame the shock of watching North Carolina’s Marcus Paige hit a double-clutch 3-pointer to tie it by spotting up behind the right side of the arc and making a 3-pointer of his own at the buzzer to lift Villanova to a 77-74 victory and the national championship Monday night.
What a shot — and what a game.
The second-seeded Wildcats (35-5), had a six-point lead with 1:52 left, but watched it slowly trickle away. Then, it was gone, when Paige jumped — and when Ryan Arcidacono started running at him — double clutched and pumped one from beyond the arc to tie the game at 74 with 4.7 seconds left.
After a timeout, Arcidacono worked the ball upcourt and got it to Jenkins, who swished it from about two steps behind the 3-point line.
“Kris told him he was going to be open, Arch made the perfect pass,” Villanova coach Jay Wright explained. “Kris lives for that moment.”
A few moments later, Jenkins was leaping over press row, hugging his family and shouting: “They said we couldn’t, they said we couldn’t, they said we couldn’t.”
Oh yes, they could.
It’s Villanova’s first title since 1985, when Rollie Massimino coaxed a miracle out of his eighth-seeded underdogs for a victory over star-studded Georgetown.
Hard to top this one, though.
Jenkins, who was adopted by the family of North Carolina guard Nate Britt, now has a spot with Keith Smart, Lorenzo Charles and anyone else who ever made a late game-winner to win the whole thing.
Paige finished with 21 for the top-seeded Heels (33-7), who came one agonizing shot short of giving coach Roy Williams his third national title.
Michael Jordan was one of several dozen former Tar Heels in attendance.
Jordan’s late jumper in 1982 helped North Carolina beat Georgetown in the national championship game and give the late Dean Smith his first title as Tar Heels’ coach.
On the Villanova side, Massimino made it to the game. The 81-year-old is still coaching in Florida at NAIA Northwood. He wasn’t sure if he’d be able to get to the game because his wife has been ailing.
Massimino led the Wildcats to the national title with an upset over Georgetown in 1985.
A lot of Villanova students made the 1,500-mile journey from Philadelphia to Houston.
Those sitting in seats on the floor at one end of the court chanted as the Wildcats took the court.
Going into Monday, the Tar Heels had won in their last four national championship game appearances — in 1982, 1993, 2005 and 2009.
The crowd at NRG Stadium was announced at 74,340, second largest in NCAA tournament final history.
VILLANOVA (35-5): Jenkins 6-11 0-1 14, Ochefu 4-5 1-2 9, Brunson 1-4 1-2 4, Hart 4-9 3-4 12, Arcidiacono 6-9 2-2 16, Booth 6-7 6-6 20, Bridges 1-1 0-0 2, Reynolds 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 28-48 13-17 77.
NORTH CAROLINA (33-7): Meeks 1-8 2-2 4, Johnson 6-10 2-3 14, Jackson 3-8 0-2 9, Berry II 7-12 2-2 20, Paige 7-17 3-4 21, Britt 1-4 0-0 2, Pinson 0-0 0-0 0, Hicks 2-4 0-0 4, James 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-63 9-13 74.
Halftime—North Carolina 39-34. 3-Point Goals—Villanova 8-14 (Booth 2-2, Arcidiacono 2-3, Jenkins 2-4, Brunson 1-2, Hart 1-3), North Carolina 11-17 (Berry II 4-4, Paige 4-7, Jackson 3-4, Britt 0-2). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Villanova 23 (Hart 8), North Carolina 36 (Johnson 8). Assists—Villanova 6 (Arcidiacono, Ochefu 2), North Carolina 16 (Paige 6). Total Fouls—Villanova 16, North Carolina 20. A—74,340.