Tar Heels boot Villanova

Men vs. boys. Big brother vs. little brother. Future pros against a bunch of good college kids.

North Carolina's Ty Lawson reacts after a play during their 83-69 win over Villanova on Saturday to advance to the NCAA championship game.

North Carolina's Ty Lawson reacts after a play during their 83-69 win over Villanova on Saturday to advance to the NCAA championship game.

North Carolina 83 Villanova 69

DETROIT — Men vs. boys. Big brother vs. little brother. Future pros against a bunch of good college kids.

That summed up North Carolina’s 83-69 victory over Villanova on Saturday night. The ultra-talented Tar Heels simply never gave the Wildcats a chance to breathe, let alone whip up a fresh dose of Final Four magic.

Ty Lawson scored 22 points, Wayne Ellington had 20 more and the Tar Heels, with their four, five, maybe more NBA-calibre players, stayed on a path that has seemed almost certain since the season began in November.

Tyler Hansbrough had 18 points and 11 rebounds to make this a quite successful return to the Final Four after a remarkable dud last year in a semifinal loss to Kansas. Next up, North Carolina (33-4) goes for its second title in five years Monday against Michigan State, an 82-73 winner over Connecticut.

“It feels good to be back here to get another shot,” Carolina forward Deon Thompson said. “Now that we have an opportunity, we have to seize it.”

The Spartans, located 144 kilometres up the road in East Lansing, will certainly have the crowd on their side. The talent gap, though? Eek. They’ll have to be at least 35 points better than they were in December when the teams met in this same building — a 98-63 UNC romp.

“They had a couple players that were hurt and came off a long road stretch,” Lawson said. “We know they’re a better team right now.”

Meanwhile, Villanova (30-8) ends a successful season two wins short of its first title since 1985, when Rollie Massimino coaxed one of the greatest upsets in sports history out of his guys — 66-64 over Patrick Ewing, John Thompson and Georgetown.

Thompson was on press row doing radio and Massimino was chomping his gum nervously behind the Villanova bench, part of the record crowd of 72,456 at Ford Field — half gone and streaming toward the exits with five minutes left.

But James Naismith himself probably couldn’t have helped ’Nova out of this one.

North Carolina simply had too much talent.

“They played a great game and are playing extremely well,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “They’ve got all the pieces, and we have great respect for them. We’ve been getting better every game, and we did not get better tonight.”

Carolina did.

Last season, in one of the more inexplicable performances in Final Four history, the Tar Heels trailed Kansas 40-12 midway through the first half.

This time, they led 40-23.

“I’ve been there. I was there a year ago,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. “It feels like somebody jerks your heart out and shakes it.”

Ellington made five of his first six shots, including a three-pointer after a perfect crosscourt pass over the top from Danny Green. Nobody had an answer for Hansbrough, who once found himself bodied up with Dante Cunningham, faked left, then spun to the baseline and saw no more resistance — a way-too-easy layup.

Lawson, he of the injured toe and the successful trip to the craps table in downtown Detroit a few nights previous — well, he stayed on a roll, going 5-for-11 with eight assists and seven rebounds. Had he shot better than 10-for-17 from the line, this game might have been more lopsided.

And so, what began as tournament with great potential for the Big East — three top seeds, two in the Final Four — will end with the conference on the sideline.

“Right now, Carolina proved that regardless of conference, they’re playing the best basketball in the country right now,” Wright said. “So did Michigan State.”

No disrespect to Villanova, which did, in fact, make this interesting for a brief time. The Wildcats cut the deficit to five early in the second half. It could have been three, but Cunningham’s jumper went halfway in before cruelly rimming out.

Green answered with a three-pointer, then the Tar Heels got a steal and layup from Lawson to push the lead back to 10. That took all of 64 seconds.

“Big-time players make big-time shots in big-time games,” Ellington said of Green’s three.

Though the rest of the second half was a jumbled mess for both teams — which allowed Villanova to stay in shouting distance — the Wildcats never got it back under double digits.

It was a typical no-quit effort from Wright’s group of seasoned upperclassmen, who battled through the Big East and started putting it together come tournament time.

Scottie Reynolds will always have that indelible end-to-end game-winning layup against Pittsburgh last weekend that got Villanova to its Final Four since ’85. His first basket in this one, however, didn’t come until more than nine minutes were gone and the deficit was in double digits. He finished with 17 points on 6-for-18 shooting.

Cunningham, the Wildcats’ leading scorer and rebounder this season, had 12 and 12. Reggie Redding had 15 points, and Corey Fisher scored 13 in 5-for-19 shooting.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Public Schools says that in the absence of additional funds from the provincial government, there was no consideration of using alternate classroom sites in the district. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Red Deer Public Schools launches online engagement process

Red Deer Public schools is seeking community input to help ensure a… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels defenceman Mason Ward battles with a Medicine Hat Tigers’ forward during the WHL Central Division season opener. (Photo by Rob Wallator/ Red Deer Rebels)
Tigers come back to spoil Red Deer Rebels home opener

It’s been nearly 345 days since the Red Deer Rebels last played… Continue reading

Students walk into Hunting Hills High School, which is one of the Red Deer Public Schools with solar panels on its roof. (Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff)
Red Deer high school was placed in lockdown following potential threat

Hunting Hills High School was placed in a lockdown Friday after Red… Continue reading

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer says some details of the provincial government’s 2021-22 budget need to be ‘sorted out’ when it comes to the hospital expansion funding. (File photo by Advocate staff)
More detail needed regarding hospital funding, says Red Deer mayor

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer says some information is unclear regarding the… Continue reading

Alberta Health reported two new COVID-19 deaths in Red Deer Friday. (Image courtesy CDC)
Two more deaths linked to Olymel outbreak in Red Deer

Province reported 356 additional COVID-19 cases Friday

An arrest by Red Deer RCMP is facing online scrutiny. No charges have been laid and the incident is still under investigation. (Screenshot of YouTube video)
Red Deer RCMP investigating violent arrest caught on video

Police say officer ‘acted within the scope of his duties’

Thorough sanding of a table top is usually the first step to renewing a finish. Wax contaminants can sometimes still remain on a surface like this after sanding. Cleaning with rubbing alcohol and a rag gets rid of these contaminants without leaving a residue behind. (Photo by Steve Maxwell)
Houseworks: Fixing wood finishes

Q: How can I stop polyurethane from beading up on a mahogany… Continue reading

Need a knife? There are knives of all shapes and sizes at The Kitchen Store.
Hints from Heloise: Finding a good set of kitchen knives

Dear Readers: A good set of knives in the kitchen is a… Continue reading

Runner Melissa Bishop-Nriagu speaks to the media at the opening news conference at the Canadian Track and Field Championships Thursday, July 25, 2019 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canadian athletes struggling to find competition as they try to qualify for Tokyo

Canadian athletes struggling to find competition as they try to qualify for Tokyo

New York Red Bulls midfielder Jared Stroud, right, vies for the ball against Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio during an MLS soccer match in Harrison, NJ., Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. Entering his ninth season with Toronto FC, Jonathan Osorio said his off-season regimen was no different than in the past. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Eduardo Munoz Alvarez
Veteran TFC midfielder Jonathan Osorio looks to take it to the next level this season

Veteran TFC midfielder Jonathan Osorio looks to take it to the next level this season

Powell, Lowry help depleted Raptors beat Rockets

Powell, Lowry help depleted Raptors beat Rockets

Edmonton Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen (19) makes the save on Toronto Maple Leafs' Zach Hyman (11) as Tyson Barrie (22) defends during third period NHL action in Edmonton, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2021. Toronto continues to lead the North Division standings, but hard-charging Edmonton is now just four points back on the all-Canadian circuit heading into a three-game series between the teams in Alberta's capital beginning Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Maple Leafs, Oilers set for key three-game series atop North Division

Maple Leafs, Oilers set for key three-game series atop North Division

Angela James stands on centre ice in front of the Toronto Maple Leafs team after being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame before Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres NHL hockey action in Toronto on Saturday November 6, 2010. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Hall of Famers James, Lowe, Hay named to Order of Hockey in Canada

Hall of Famers James, Lowe, Hay named to Order of Hockey in Canada

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse talks to center Aron Baynes (46) and guard Norman Powell (24) during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris O'Meara
Nurse, five Raptors assistants sidelined to due COVID-19 health and safety protocols

Nurse, five Raptors assistants sidelined to due COVID-19 health and safety protocols

Most Read