illanova, recovering from a tipin at the buzzer in double overtime by Northeastern's Eric Jefferson, went on to defeat the Huskies, 76-72, in triple overtime today to advance to the semifinals of the NCAA East Regional.
The Wildcats will meet Memphis State in the third-round Friday night in Raleigh, N.C.
In the second game today, freshman Ennis Whatley scored six points in the final six minutes, including a pair of tie-breaking free throws with four minutes left, as 13th-ranked Alabama struggled to a 69-68 victory over St. John's. The Crimson Tide will play North Carolina Friday in Raleigh.
It was an afternoon of extremely close calls for Villanova. After blowing a nine-point lead in the second half, the Wildcats completed regulation tied at 56. In the first overtime, Northeastern nearly won it at the buzzer, but a shot by Dave Leitao went in and out. In the second overtime, Jefferson followed up a missed 14-footer by Perry Moss to force the third extra period.
That third overtime was less taxing on the Wildcats, who used six points by point guard Stewart Granger to end the Huskies' surprising run in the tournament. Granger had missed a potential game-winning shot from the left base line with four seconds remaining in regulation.
"I had the shots against their zone in the third overtime," Granger said, "and I took them. I was surprised it went to three overtimes. I thought we had them in the first overtime, but they're a gutty team."
Northeastern (23-7), which upset St. Joseph's in the opening round, was led by guard Moss, who finished with 31 points. However, Moss missed twice from inside the foul line in the final minute.
"We deserved to win, but you've got to congratulate Villanova," Northeastern Coach Jim Calhoun said. "They're a very good team with a lot of character, but we never gave up."
Dwayne McClain led Villanova (23-7) with 20 and Granger finished with 16.
The last extra period began with a jumper from the top of the key by Granger, giving Villanova a 67-65 lead. Moss and Granger then traded baskets before Mark Halsel gave Northeastern the lead with a three-point play with 2:36 remaining. Tt was Northeastern's first lead since the opening basket of the first extra period.