Reynolds, Villanova rally to upset ClemsonMar 22, 2008 - 7:16 AM TAMPA, Florida (Ticker) -- Villanova capped a wild day of upsets at the St. Pete Times Forum on Friday.
Scottie Reynolds scored 21 points and freshman Corey Fisher added 17 off the bench as the 12th-seeded Wildcats rallied for a 75-69 victory over fifth-seeded Clemson in a Midwest Regional first-round matchup.
Freshman Antonio Pena had 12 points for the Wildcats, who ended the game on a 9-3 run - all on free throws - in the last two minutes to break a 66-66 tie. Villanova had scored seven straight to take a 73-66 advantage with 26 seconds remaining.
Earlier in the day, 12th-seeded Western Kentucky knocked off the fifth-seed Drake, and a pair of 13 seeds, San Diego and Siena, defeated fourth-seeded Connecticut and Vanderbilt, respectively. It was the first time in NCAA Tournament history that four upsets took place in the same building on the same day.
Villanova will take on Siena in the second round, while the other contests will take place in the West Regional on Sunday.
"It's incredible what happened here today," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "We're going to have some wild games Sunday, think about it. It's just going to be something historical in the NCAA Tournament."
One of the last at-large teams selected into the NCAAs, the Wildcats (21-12) trailed by as many as 18 points in the first half before cutting the deficit to 12 at the intermission.
"Obviously, we're bitterly disappointed that we're not moving on," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. "We obviously got off to a real good start, energetic start, scoring the basketball and getting our pressure up. Building a pretty good lead in the first half. We've got to give Villanova a lot of credit because they kind of hung in there."
Villanova stormed back early after the break, scoring the first seven points during a 16-5 run to start the second half that cut the deficit to 44-43 with 15:30 remaining. Reynolds had eight points during the run.
"We've been in this position (down at halftime) before," Reynolds said. "In this game we just wanted to be persistent, and just keep grinding it out. "Have that mentality that if they're going to beat us, man, it's going to take 40 minutes."
Reynolds' 3-pointer gave the Wildcats their first lead of the game at 50-49 with 11:56 remaining, and Villanova held its biggest lead at 63-55 with under six minutes to play.
However, Clemson rallied back - keyed by a technical foul called on Wright - and tied the game at 66-66 on a pair of free throws by David Potter with 1:55 left.
"I was hoping I didn't blow it for us," Wright said. "I deserved it. I let a curse word come out. You tell the players all the time, next play. But in the back of your mind, you're hoping this doesn't cost us."
Clemson shot just 25 percent (7-of-28) in the second half, including a dismal 2-of-16 from the arc.
"We just had to get out and be more aggressive on the perimeter and take more chances," Wright said. "In the first half we tried to play a little bit more conservatively because we were concerned about their offensive rebounds."
K.C. Rivers scored 15 points to lead the Tigers (24-10), who made just 14-of-23 from the free-throw line.
"It's tough to handle, you know, because we had a game plan," Rivers said. "We had our plans set to take it one game at a time and doing what we needed to do to make that stride. It didn't backfire, we just failed at it. We failed at our mission."
- MIDWEST REGIONAL
AT TAMPA FL
NCAA BB MIDWEST REGIONAL
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
VILLANOVA 27 48 75
CLEMSON (22) 39 30 69 FINAL
Mar 22 12:26 AM
- MIDWEST REGIONAL
AT TAMPA FL
NCAA BB (12) VILLANOVA 27
(5) CLEMSON 39 HALFTIME
Mar 21 10:46 PM
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