NEW YORK – For the first time in 3 years, Villanova is in the Big East semifinals.
But not before the Wildcats went through a serious sweat.
Dwayne Anderson’s layup just before the final buzzer, his third and fourth points of the game (and first field goal) off a perfect bounce-pass from the foul line by Reggie Redding, gave Villanova a 76-75 win over Marquette this afternoon.
“We tried to attack, tried to get the ball to Scottie but they face guarded him,” Anderson said. “Reggie is a playmaker. It’s what he does. It definitely means a lot. I’ve been through a lot these four years, the ups and downs, the highs and lows. ... We’re not quite there, we’re getting close to it.”
The fourth-seeded Wildcats (26-6) led by 16 at the half.
They now will get top-seeded Louisville (26-5) at 7 p.m. Friday in the first half of a semifinal doubleheader. It’s their first trip to the semis since 2006.
The 10th-ranked Wildcats fell behind, by one, with 1:40 to play, on a three-pointer from the key by Lazar Hayward. It was Marquette’s first lead since 5-4.
The fifth-seeded Golden Eagles (23-9) were still up one with 40 seconds to go, and had possession. But Jerel McNeal’s driving layup was blocked by Dante Cunningham, and the Wildcats, who were out of timeouts, had one final chance.
Redding found himself with the ball as the clock wound down. It looked as if he would have to put up some kind of desperation shot, but at the last instant he saw Anderson cutting for the basket and found him in stride.
The officials had to check the replays to make sure it counted. But it wasn’t really that close.
Scottie Reynolds had 21 for Villanova, 18 in the first half. Corey Stokes finished with 20, 17 after intermission.
Marquette got 19 from Jimmy Butler, the first time he has led the team in scoring all season.
The Golden Eagles have now dropped five of six since losing point guard Dominic James with a broken foot. All the losses were to ranked teams.
While nothing will be certain until Sunday night, this victory pretty much assures that Villanova will get a third seed and be sent to South Philadelphia for the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament.