(ANAHEIM, Calif.) — It would have been Butch Ryan’s 90th birthday on Saturday. His son, Bo, always took him to the Final Four as a gift to his dad. This year, the Wisconsin coach is going for the first time as a head coach following a 64-63 overtime win over Arizona in the West Regional final.
The second-seeded Badgers needed all 45 minutes to knock off the top seed in the West, having to make one last stop in the final seconds. With the Wildcats inbounding down one and less than three seconds remaining, guard Nick Johnson turned the corner and fired a last-second shot from the left elbow that clanked off the rim.
That shot came after Wisconsin (30-7) turned the ball over on the inbounds following a charge call against Johnson on the previous possession. For the Wildcats (33-5) it was fourth time trying to win the West region in Anaheim, coming up short each of the three previous tries.
An incredibly physical game saw Arizona hold an eight point lead late in the first before the Badgers scored the last five of the half to make it a 28-25 contest at the break. Wisconsin continued to battle back, tying the game at 34 when Frank Kaminsky hit a three just four minutes into the second.
The team squads traded baskets throughout regulation with neither gaining more than a three point advantage. Trailing 54-52 in the final minute, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson gathered an offensive rebound and dunked it home for Arizona forcing the extra session.
Overtime was very much like regulation. Whatever shot Wisconsin made, the Wildcats had an answer. That was until Kaminsky tipped in a rebound to put the Badgers up 64-61 with just over a minute to play. Jordin Mayes did the same on the other end for Arizona, closing the deficit to one, but the Badgers held on for the victory.
Johnson had 16 points for Arizona in the loss while freshman Aaron Gordon added 18 rebounds. Kaminsky finished with a game high 28 points and 11 boards for Wisconsin who advance to their first Final Four since the 2000 season, just before Bo Ryan took over.
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Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com