NEW YORK — James Bell was doing what a shooter does — shoot.
It didn't matter that he was 1 for 8 from three-point range in regulation. The junior guard let a couple of three's fly in overtime and Villanova was able to come away with an 89-81 victory over Purdue on Thursday night in the semifinals of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project.
Bell and the other shooters over the years at Villanova follow a philosophy given to them by coach Jay Wright: “Shoot `em up. Sleep in the streets.”
Wright explained it as, “Keep shooting and if you make them everyone loves you. If you keep missing they won't let you in the house, so you sleep in the streets.”
“As a shooter you're going to have good days and you're going to have bad days, but you can't let it get to you,” Bell said. “You have to keep shooting and that's what I tried to do here and we were able to come out with the win.”
Villanova scored the last six points of regulation — all on free throws — to tie the game at 75.
The Wildcats (3-0) will face Alabama in Friday night's championship game. The Crimson Tide beat Oregon State 65-62.
Darrun Hilliard set his career high for the second straight game, finishing with 22 points for Villanova. Freshman Ryan Arcidiacono had 18 points for the Wildcats and Bell added 16.
Bell hit his first three to break the 75-all tie and his second made it 83-79 with 2 minutes left. That started a 9-0 run that gave the Wildcats the win in Madison Square Garden.
“This just shows what we can do when we do the little things,” Bell said.
D.J. Byrd had 16 points for the Boilermakers (1-2). Terone Johnson added 13, and Ronnie Johnson had 12 points and nine assists.
“We had every opportunity to win but we went above and beyond the call of duty to lose,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “Missed free throws, turnovers, stupid fouls at the end. This has to be a learning experience, but we have to have discipline because when you don't crazy things can happen.”
The officials went to the replay monitors twice in the final 43 seconds of regulation. One call went in Villanova's favor, the other didn't.
Villanova had cut its deficit to 75-71 when Byrd was trapped on the sideline and was called for an offensive foul. It was his fifth personal foul and the officials went to the monitor, ruling that Byrd threw an elbow into the face of Hilliard. They made it a flagrant foul.
“As soon as he caught the ball there were two guys on him and they all blocked my vision,” Painter said. “I couldn't figure out why they were going to the monitor and that's when I found out what they were looking at.”
Bell was asked if he saw the elbow.
“I didn't see it,” he said, “but I have to think the officials made the right call.”
Hilliard hit two free throws and the Wildcats got the ball. Arcidiacono was fouled and made both shots to tie the game.
Purdue turned the ball over with 7.6 seconds left. Arcidiacono drove to the basket and it appeared the ball was touched by a Purdue player above the rim, but the officials went to the monitor and ruled it was no basket.