PHILADELPHIA — Ryan Arcidiacono took the inbounds, heaved the ball, and ducked.
Hundreds of Villanova students trampled the court like a bull rush and the game-saving point guard was the target.
One overzealous fan tried to strip him of his No. 15 jersey.
Hey, it’s not every day the Wildcats knock off a Top 5 team — though they sure are trying.
Arcidiacono hit the tying 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds left in regulation, and James Bell hit consecutive 3s in overtime to send Villanova to its second win over a Top 5 team this week, 75-71 over No. 3 Syracuse on Saturday.
The Wildcats defeated No. 5 Louisville 73-64 on Tuesday and became the first unranked team to beat two Top 5 teams in the same season since Florida State in 2011-12, according to STATS LLC.
“What a week for us,” coach Jay Wright said.
What an understatement.
Philadelphia’s college fans came down with a case of court-storming fever this week after Villanova’s win over Louisville and La Salle’s 54-53 win the next night over No. 9 Butler. At the Wells Fargo Center, home of the NHL’s Flyers, the fans made it a Philly hoops hat trick, rushing the court in celebration of perhaps the biggest regular-season week in Villanova history.
Talk about upset city!
Arcidiacono’s 3-point attempt to tie with about 25 seconds left in regulation was off the mark. Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams missed the front end of a 1-and-1 and JayVaughn Pinkston of the Wildcats grabbed the rebound.
Bell missed a 3 and Mouphtaou Yarou grabbed the offensive rebound. Syracuse decided not to foul, giving Yarou time to kick it out to Arcidiacono. He let go a leaner from just beyond the 3-point line to tie the game at 61, force overtime and send the crowd of 18,273 into a frenzy.
“I just put it up and luckily it went in,” Arcidiacono said. “I think we’re having fun.”
The Wildcats may not be ranked in next week’s AP Top 25 poll, but they have worked their way into NCAA tournament discussion.
The next time Villanova wins a big one, fans can stay seated.
“It was fun, but, hopefully people know we don’t need that anymore,” Arcidiacono said.
With the Orange (18-2, 6-1 Big East) down two points in overtime, Brandon Triche made one free throw with 46.5 seconds left.
Bell followed with a layup to for a 71-68 lead and the Wildcats (13-7, 4-3) held on from the free throw line.
Darrun Hilliard scored 25 points had six assists and no turnovers in 38 minutes. Yarou had 14 points and 16 rebounds for the Wildcats while Bell scored 13 points. The Wildcats committed only one turnover in the final 14 minutes.
Yes, this is the same team that lost consecutive games to Alabama, Columbia and La Salle in November. There’s no break on the schedule: Villanova plays Wednesday at No. 24 Notre Dame.
“It takes time to build a team,” Wright said. “That’s what we’re doing here. We’re building a team.”
Florida State beat No. 3 North Carolina and No. 4 Duke in its big week.
Triche led the Orange with 23 points and Carter-Williams scored 17 points. The Orange had an eight-game winning streak and both of their losses came to Philadelphia teams. They lost to Temple on Dec. 22.
“We missed a lot more layups than we have all year,” coach Jim Boeheim said. “That’s part of the game.”
The Orange clearly could have use James Southerland in the tight game. Southerland, second on the team in scoring at 13.6 points and the team leader with 33 3-pointers, was declared out indefinitely because of an eligibility matter involving academics that has yet to be resolved.
Jerami Grant, who played well in Southerland’s absence, hit a 3-pointer early in the second half that gave the Orange their first lead of the game, 33-32. Grant fouled out with 5:22 left and the Orange up one. His fifth foul was against Hilliard. Hilliard missed both from the line, the Orange stormed down in transition off the defensive board, and Triche hit a 3 for a 57-53 lead.
The Orange just could never put them away. They missed six of eight shots in overtime and were only 5 of 14 overall from 3-point range.
“We played good D but their point guard just made a good shot to send it to overtime,” forward C.J. Fair said. “I knew we had a shot at coming back and winning this game. It just didn’t bounce our way.”
The Wildcats gave all the students standing behind each basket and dressed in white an early reason to think they would be rushing again. They opened the game on a 10-0 run and stretched the lead to 25-13. But the fun didn’t last long.
Triche, a 50 percent shooter on the season, hit Syracuse’s first 3-pointer of the half to slice the lead to four. He tipped in a basket at the buzzer to cut the lead to 32-26.
The next buzzer beater to end a half, Villanova was ready.
“We can’t let this be our season,” Hilliard said.