Thursday's semifinal game in the 2K Sports Classic between Villanova and Purdue was full of youth and inexperience, but it was a decision by the referees that changed the result of the game.
With 44 seconds left in the second half with Purdue up by four, Boilermakers senior D.J. Byrd was called for a flagrant foul on Villanova's Darrun Hilliard.
Byrd's elbow caught the head of Hilliard as the Wildcats were attempting to force a turnover in the backcourt.
Hilliard made the two free throws that the Wildcats were awarded from the flagrant foul and freshman Ryan Arcidiacono made two more free throws to level the game and send it into overtime at 75-75
Once the Wildcats tied the game, not only did the momentum shift over to their side but so did the crowd, which was mostly pro-Villanova at Madison Square Garden.
In overtime, Villanova did not trail once and ended up winning 89-81.
The ending of the second half overshadowed a very physical, hard-fought battle in the between both teams.
After a first half that was dominated by Arcidiacono's stellar play, Purdue came back and was in charge until the questionable call on Byrd, which also led to the senior fouling out of the game.
The second half was marred by many scrappy plays on the court as both teams left everything on the floor.
Purdue took the lead with just over 10 minutes left in the second half as the Wildcats struggled to defend Byrd and point guard Ronnie Johnson, all while settling for bad shots on the offensive end.
There will be much talk of the flagrant foul decision by the referees, but credit must be given to both teams for fighting hard in the second half.
In the end, the foul on Byrd was the turning point of the game and Nova took the momentum and ran with it right into overtime.
Villanova will now face Alabama in the final of the tournament on Friday while Purdue will face Oregon State in the consolation game at Madison Square Garden.
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