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Villanova Knocks off North Carolina for NCAA National Championship

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HOUSTON (CNN) — It was a national championship game for the ages.

Junior forward Kris Jenkins’ hit a 3-point shot at the buzzer, and No. 2 seed Villanova won the NCAA men’s basketball national championship in a thriller over No. 1 seed North Carolina, 77-74, at NRG Stadium in Houston.

It’s Villanova’s second championship in program history, the first coming in 1985.

UNC senior guard Marcus Paige’s acrobatic 3-point shot with 4.7 seconds remaining gave UNC life, tying it at 74. Seat cushions flew all over the stadium in celebration.

But it was premature.

Jenkins, who finished the night with 16 points, snuffed out UNC’s hopes of a sixth championship with a dagger as the horn sounded.

A close one throughout

After 10 lead changes in the first half, UNC gained control in the final minutes by sweeping the glass for rebounds and knocking down threes (hitting 7 of 9 for 77.8%) and went to the locker room with a 39-34 lead, undoubtedly making Michael Jordan, a UNC alum who was in attendance, happy for the moment.

But in the second half, Villanova grabbed the lead with a three from sophomore guard Phil Booth to make it 49-46 with 12:46 remaining.

UNC never regained the lead.

Senior guard Ryan Arcidiacono kept the momentum going for the Wildcats, scoring nine of Villanova’s next 16 points. With free throws, Booth extended the lead to 67-57 with 5:29 left.

Booth, who started the night on the bench, finished with 20 points to lead Villanova. Arcidiacono finished with 16.

Paige, who led all scorers with 21 points, cut Villanova’s lead to 72-71 with 22 seconds remaining with a three. He finished 4-of-7 from three-point range.

But Josh Hart sunk two free throws with 13.5 seconds remaining to extend the lead to 74-71, setting up a frantic finish.