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Villanova needs overtime to escape Robert Morris

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Scottie Reynolds learned a lesson starting the game on the bench.

Once in the game, he delivered a teachable moment of his own to 15th-seeded Robert Morris: Don't let a Final Four-tested team like Villanova off the hook.

Reynolds was benched, his shot wasn't falling and his Wildcats were on the brink of having their NCAA Tournament end in the biggest of upsets. He responded with a clutch performance at the foul line in the final minutes of regulation, and No. 2 seed Villanova survived a scare from Robert Morris in a 73-70 overtime win Thursday.

"I always think we're going to win. I always think we're going to find a way," coach Jay Wright said.

With Villanova trailing 55-47 with 4:19 left in the second half, Reynolds attacked the basket and led a rally from the free-throw line. His reliable stroke was absent, but he never stopped hustling in the second half, and his sliding save of a loose ball at Robert Morris' end led to two free throws that cut the lead to 55-51.

The Colonials (23-12) coughed up the ball again, Reynolds was fouled again and he delivered again on both attempts from the line, making it 55-53 with 2:10 left. Robert Morris committed its 21st turnover and fouled Reynolds. Two more from the line and it was tied at 55 with 1:48 left in regulation.

All those missed jumpers - Reynolds was 2-for-15 from the floor - seemed forgotten.

"He is a live-by-the-sword, die-by-the-sword kind of guy," Wright said. "And I'll die by his sword anytime because we've won so many.''

The Wildcats (25-7) weren't going down.

Karon Abraham scored 23 for Robert Morris, which was on the brink of becoming only the fifth No. 15 seed to beat a No. 2 and the first since 2001. Abraham let fly a 25-footer in OT that cut it to 71-70 with 10.2 seconds left, but Mezie Nwigwe's off-balance three at the buzzer was no good.

The Northeast Conference champion Colonials left the court to a standing ovation - even from Villanova's mascot.

The Wildcats, trying to reach their second straight Final Four, entered having lost five of seven and were a surprising pick for the No. 2 seed in the South Regional.

Wright made the bold move to sit Reynolds at the start of the game to make a "teaching point." He declined to reveal the reasons behind the disciplinary action, but Reynolds said he got the message. Then he sent one.

New York Sports