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Men's Basketball Scraps to Near Upset of Villanova
Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
Release: 03/20/2006
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Courtesy: Arizona Athletics
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Top-seeded Villanova had everything going its way, building a 12-point lead while the hometown crowd cheered and former coach Rollie Massimino looked on proudly.

Then, Arizona almost spoiled the party.

Allan Ray scored 25 points, Randy Foye had 24 and Villanova withstood a late run to hold off eighth-seeded Arizona 82-78 Sunday in the second round of the Minneapolis Regional.

The Wildcats (27-4) advanced to play fourth-seeded Boston College (28-7) Friday. Villanova lost last season to eventual national champion North Carolina in the regional semifinal.

Villanova simply could not put away a scrappy Arizona (20-13) team. In their two games in Philadelphia, the Wildcats looked nothing like the team that stumbled through a subpar regular season - by their lofty standards - in the Pac-10.

With Foye and Ray doing damage from outside, and Will Sheridan and Dante Cunningham chipping in underneath, Villanova built a 12-point second-half lead that nearly crumbled completely in the final minutes.

Arizona's Ivan Radenovic made a layup and Hassan Adams made two free throws with 1:36 left that cut the gap to 76-74. Foye sank two free throws, but missed two more on the next trip down to keep it a four-point game and put the fans at a packed Wachovia Center on their feet.

Arizona went to Radenovic again, and his basket with 16.8 seconds to go made it 78-76. Mustafa Shakur's layup with 8.5 seconds pulled Arizona to 80-78, but it didn't have enough time to finish the comeback and become the first No. 8 seed to knock off a No. 1 since Alabama beat Stanford in 2003.

Marcus Williams scored 24 points, Shakur had 21 and Adams 20 for Arizona.

Often forgotten in Villanova's four-guard lineup, Cunningham and Sheridan were sensational and formed a rare low-post presence for the Wildcats. Sheridan had 16 points, Cunningham grabbed nine rebounds and both seemed to score or defend exactly when Villanova needed a clutch play.

Shakur, the Philly native who strongly considered playing for Villanova, sank a 3 that cut the double-digit deficit to 58-57 midway through the second half and gave the Wildcats momentum for a possible upset.

Sheridan had a thunderous dunk, Foye hit a little fallaway jumper, and a block by Cunningham set up Ray's 3-pointer on the other end for a 65-57 lead.

Adams, who missed two games in the Pac-10 tournament after he was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving, scored six straight points to help Arizona start its late rally.

With Massimino smiling and waving to the crowd that cheered his picture on the big screen, these Villanova Wildcats rekindled memories of that 1985 championship season, when Massimino's players shocked college basketball by defeating mighty Georgetown for the title.

The difference is, those Wildcats were an unheralded eight seed that no one expected to win a title. This Villanova team has been ranked in the top 10 all season and shared the Big East regular-season championship.

Villanova also needed to knock off a No. 1 seed in '85, Michigan, but Foye made sure there was no 8-over-1 upset in this one.

Foye was phenomenal in the first half, carrying the Wildcats with Ray struggling and Kyle Lowry and Mike Nardi only combining for three attempts. Foye sank consecutive 3-pointers that snapped a tie game and finally got a raucous rise out of what had been a dormant home crowd.

Foye's final shot of the half was his toughest, sinking a contested 18-footer from the left corner that gave Villanova a 42-35 lead at the break.

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