Villanova 52, Memphis State 45
Villanova 52, Memphis State 45
Mar. 30, 1985
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) _ Little Villanova, cutting Memphis State down to size by driving its big men to the bench with foul trouble, took control of the boards and rode Dwayne McClain's 19 points to a 52-45 victory over the Tigers Saturday to roar into the championship game of the NCAA basketball tournament.
The victory by the Wildcats of the Big East Conference set up the first all-conference final since Indiana beat fellow Big Ten team Michigan for the 1976 championship.
Villanova will play the winner of the second semifinal between defending champion Georgetown and St. John's, two other Big East teams, on Monday night.
Villanova, the only unranked team to reach this year's Final Four and far shorter than the Tigers, played their slowdown game to perfection and forced two of Memphis State's big men - Keith Lee and William Bedford - into costly foul trouble by midway in the second half.
Lee, the Tigers' 6-10, 220-pound senior forward who blew hot and cold throughout the tournament and had been in foul trouble all along the way, came into the second half with just two fouls.
But he picked up two more in a 1:33 span early in the second half and then, with 10:21 to play, fouled out on a foolish mistake - grabbing for a loose ball and hitting McClain instead.
That brought Bedford, Memphis State's 7-foot sophomore center, back in. Bedford already had four fouls and, forced to play tentatively, was unable to control the area under the basket.
Lee left with just 10 points, having shot 3-for-9 from the field with four free throws. Bedford, who finished the game, scored just eight points.
Meanwhile, McClain was the driving force as Villanova charged down the stretch, surviving a cold spell of 9:46 without a field goal. He scored the Wildcats' only four points on free throws in that stretch, while Memphis Statte was scoring eight points.
Then, McCalin broke the Wildcats back into the field-goal column with a powerful slam dunk over Bedford. That gave Villanova a 45-41 lead with 2:04 to play.
McClain scored eight of nine Villanova points in one stretch and eight of the Wildcats' final 13. The remaining four came on last-minute free throws by Gary McLain, Villanova's 6-0 senior guard. McLain hit all five of his free throws and McClain hit all seven of his.
In all, Villanova hit 20 of 26 free throws, while Memphis State went to the foul line just nine times for seven points. And despite doing most of its shooting from the outside, Villanova hit 42.1 percent of its field goal attempts, while limiting Memphis State to just 38 percent.
It was McClain, McLain and 6-9 center Ed Pinckney who had made a pact four years ago that they would reach the Final Four before they were graduated. Now they have done that one better - getting Villanova to its first championship game since 1971.
Pinckney finished with 12 points and grabbed nine rebounds. He also blocked three shots for Villanova.
Memphis State, unable to play its physical game inside through most of the second half, was forced to resort to long-range shooting. Andre Turner, a 5-10 junior guard, wound up as the Tigers' leading scorer with 11 points.
Villanova was unable to penetrate the wall tossed up in the first nine minutes by the Tigers, who blew out to a 13-7 lead with Bedford jamming in a pair of baskets.
But with substitutes Harold Jensen and Mark Plansky hitting from long range, the Wildcats clawed their way back, and neither team led by more than two points for the final 9:02 of the opening half, which ended tied 23-23.
A jumper by Baskerville Holmes and a rebound follow by Bedford gave Memphis State the first two baskets of the second half, but McLain's jumper, Pinckney's jam on a follow and a foul shot on Lee's third personal put Villanova back on top 28-27 three minutes into the second half.
Baskets by Lee and Turner pushed Memphis State on top again, 31-28, then Villanova went on a tear.
McClain hit a jumper. Pinckney hit two free throws on Lee's fourth foul. Pinckney scored from the field. Then Bedford picked up a technical foul - which McLain sank - when he angrily flung the ball off the court after being called for traveling.
Bedford picked up his fourth personal with 12:52 and Lee replaced him, but the Villanova run continued on Jensen's jumper. It gave the Wildcats nine points in a row and 37-31 lead.
The teams traded baskets and, after Lee fouled out, McClain hit two free throws for a 41-33 lead before the Wildcats cooled off and allowed Memphis State to charge back into contention.