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Tim Layden
March 29, 2004
Villanova's seismic victory over Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA final was a life-altering experience for the Wildcats. The coaches and players of that miracle team are still feeling the aftershocks
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March 29, 2004

The Upset

Villanova's seismic victory over Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA final was a life-altering experience for the Wildcats. The coaches and players of that miracle team are still feeling the aftershocks

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A viewing of the game 19 years later yields two nuggets.

?Despite the common perception of the game as a "shot-clock victory" for Villanova, the Wildcats held the ball more than 45 seconds just twice all night, both times enabled by a passive and atypical Georgetown zone defense. True to Massimino's pregame speech, 'Nova played to win.

? Villanova's game was not without flaws. The Wildcats had 17 turnovers (to Georgetown's 11). Jensen had six. Part of what is so fascinating about the game is that Villanova, when it did not turn the ball over, almost always scored.

Among many critical moments in an excruciatingly tense game, two stand out. Trailing 28-27 with 1:58 left in the first half, Villanova took possession off a Georgetown miss and went into a four corners delay. Georgetown stayed in a passive 1-3-1 zone, allowing Villanova to hold the ball. On the telecast CBS's Brent Musberger observed the momentary stall and, referring to the impending introduction of the shot clock, intoned, "What you are seeing is a relic." Pressley scored over Ewing with four seconds left in the half to give Villanova a 29-28 lead, and the Hoyas raced upcourt for one last shot. David Wingate's bomb bounced off the rim, while underneath the basket, Everson—giving Pinckney precious rest—bodied Hoyas guard-forward Reggie Williams. As the horn sounded Williams threw his arms into Everson's neck and face and then ran off. Everson pleaded for a foul, and Massimino ran onto the court. After getting no satisfaction from the officials, Massimino sprinted off the floor with his team, famously pumping his right fist as he disappeared from the television image.

"That incident just swept the whole team into the locker room on a wave," says Marty Marbach, one of the assistant coaches. Massimino began shouting, "Great job, Chuck, great job." And then to the whole team: "They are not giving that intimidation s—- to us. Who the f—- do they think they are? Do they think we're going to lie down for them? That is not happening. They're trying to chump us, and it's b———!" He calmed down after several minutes, but the energy remained and carried Villanova into the second half. (Years later, when Pinckney was playing for the Miami Heat, he found himself alone in an elevator with coach Pat Riley. As the elevator hummed upward, Riley, a master motivator, turned to Pinckney and said, "Someday you've got to tell me what Massimino said at halftime of that game.")

The Wildcats built a 53-48 advantage with six minutes to play, but Georgetown ran off six straight points to take the lead, forced a Villanova turnover and went into a four corners in an attempt to coax Villanova into a man-to-man defense. The stall lasted less than half a minute before Martin's hard pass bounced off Broadnax's shin.

"I threw a bad pass that Horace Broadnax was too lazy to bend over and catch," says Martin. Is he kidding? After all these years? "It was a low pass," Martin says. "Personally, I would have caught it."

Broadnax says, "A lot of people said it was a tough pass. If you're going to win championships, you've got to catch those. Got to." He has never discussed the play with Martin. The two have not seen each other since Martin graduated in the spring of 1985.

Following the turnover Villanova held the ball for 62 seconds until Jensen bravely drilled the wide-open jump shot from the right side with 2:37 left on the clock. The Wildcats did not trail again. When they returned to their hotel, so many fans awaited that the players couldn't get off the bus. "We were like the Beatles," says Pinckney. The party raged until dawn, when the sun rose and a chartered jet ferried them back to Philadelphia for a parade.


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