Remembering Villanova's 1985 Championship: Cats Dodge Bullet in Dayton

Harold Pressley scoring two of his eight points

Dayton, OH, Friday, March 15

Rollie Massimino took his #8 seed Wildcats and his perfect 7-0 record in the opening round of the NCAA tournament into Dayton, Ohio to face the #9 seed Dayton Flyers. Rollie was disappointed by his #8 seeding, but having to face Dayton on their home court, where they only lost twice all year, made him absolutely livid. He used the NCAA's slight to motivate his team. His Cats responded with a 51-49 victory in a game that could have gone either way.

"Dayton was able to go toe-to-toe with Villanova thanks to some dead-eye foul shooting. The Flyers made all 17 of their attempts and had the sellout crowd of 13,260 roaring when they took a 49-47 lead, but Pinckney silenced the throng with a game-tying layup with 3:34 remaining." (1)

"Ed Pinckney was the best player on the floor, finishing with a game-high 20 points while completely dominating Dayton star Dave Colbert, whose 5 points were 13 below his season average. "We’re just too small," Flyers coach Don Donoher bemoaned. "And Pinckney is such a force in there, it was hard for Dave to go inside to get post-up shots." (1)

"Harold Pressley administered what Donoher called "the back-breaker" when he stole the ball with three minutes to go, setting the stage for Harold Jensen’s go-ahead layup with 1:10 on the clock." (1)

"I didn’t see anybody in the middle. So I saw a chance. I said what the hell," Jensen said of his heroic shot." (1)

"Dayton came oh-so-close to forcing overtime, but Sedric Toney’s put-back with three seconds left rimmed out. "It did everything but go in," Donoher said. "It rolled around a couple times and then came out." Thanks to that, the clock did not strike midnight early for destiny’s Cats." (1)

Twenty years later, Ed Pinckney would write in his book Tales from the Villanova Hardwood, "Looking back, that was probably our toughest game in the whole tournament. We knew what to expect from Georgetown and St. Johns. I think that causes less anxiety, even when they’re considered the best teams in the nation. But Dayton was the great unknown to us, and that’s always a little scary. Then when we played the game, we seemed to be playing real well, but not winning. We were playing and playing, and not pulling away from them. They were well coached and tough."

Things go from tough to brutal for the Cats, as they draw #1 seed Michigan in the second round. Michigan defeated #16 Fairleigh Dickenson 59-55 in the first round behind 15 points from Roy Tarpley.

In other first round games of note, #3 Duke defeated #14 Pepperdine 75-62. Jay Bilas had 7 points. #1 Georgetown defeated #16 Lehigh 68-43, with Patrick Ewing held to 11 points on 3-9 shooting. #8 Temple defeated #9 Virginia Tech 60-57 behind 22 points from Granger Hall. #7 Syracuse defeated #10 DePaul behind 23 points from Dwayne "Pearl" Washington and 17 from Ron Seikaly. #1 St. John’s defeated #16 Southern 83-59 behind 24 points from Walter Berry, 23 points from Bill Wennington and 21 points from Chris Mullen. #2 North Carolina defeated #15 Middle Tennessee 76-57 behind 25 points from Brad Daugherty. #5 Maryland defeated #12 Miami in overtime 69-68 led by 25 points from Len Bias and 24 points from Andrian Branch. #2 Memphis State defeated #15 Pennsylvania 67-55. Perry Bromwell had 16 for Penn while Andre Turner had 16 for Memphis State.

Box Score

VILLANOVA WILDCATS

MIN

FGM-A

FTM-A

OFF

REB

AST

PF

PTS

Ed Pinckney

40

6-10

8-13

-

6

1

3

20

Mark Plansky

1

0-0

0-0

-

1

0

1

0

Harold Pressley

38

4-9

0-1

-

5

1

3

8

Dwight Wilbur

23

1-5

0-0

-

1

1

2

2

Dwayne McClain

36

5-9

1-1

-

5

3

4

11

MIN

FGM-A

FTM-A

OFF

REB

AST

PF

PTS

Chuck Everson

1

0-0

0-0

-

0

0

0

0

Harold Jensen

24

3-5

2-2

-

0

1

1

8

Gary McLain

37

1-4

0-0

-

2

1

3

2

TOTALS

FGM-A

FTM-A

OFF

REB

AST

PF

PTS

20-42

11-17

-

20

8

17

51

DAYTON FLYERS

MIN

FGM-A

FTM-A

OFF

REB

AST

PF

PTS

Jeff Zern

17

1-2

0-0

-

1

0

5

2

Dan Christie

7

0-1

0-0

-

1

1

1

0

Dave Colbert

39

2-5

1-1

-

6

1

3

5

Sedric Toney

37

5-16

2-2

-

0

4

0

12

Larry Schellenberg

40

3-6

6-6

-

5

4

2

12

MIN

FGM-A

FTM-A

OFF

REB

AST

PF

PTS

Ted Harris

1

0-0

0-0

-

0

0

0

0

Damon Goodwin

38

4-8

8-8

-

9

2

3

16

Anthony Grant

21

1-5

0-0

-

8

0

2

2

TOTALS

FGM-A

FTM-A

OFF

REB

AST

PF

PTS

16-43

17-17

-

30

12

16

49

(1) Source: John Schaefer’s The Villanova Miracle and 63 Other Dreams

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