Up 63-54 with 9:59 remaining, the rug was pulled out from under the Tar Heels.
***Listen to the story***
A 26-3 second half run from the Fighting Irish turned the tables in the league newcomer’s favor – giving them their first ACC title and leaving the Tar Heels the disappointed runner-up for the third time in the last four years.
“I love how fearless we are when we step up and take big-time shots. We’ve done that all year though. We really have,” Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey says.
Tournament MVP Jerian Grant finished with 24 points and 10 assists to lead an overwhelmingly balanced offensive attack for the Irish.
Fellow senior Pat Connaughton tallied 20 points, including four pure shots from behind the arc.
“That was a big-time game for about 30, 32 minutes, and then after that it was a big game if you were a Notre Dame fan. It wasn’t for us,” UNC head coach Roy Williams says.
As for the Tar Heels, junior guard Marcus Paige did all he could, posting 24 points, including five of UNC’s seven made three-pointers.
Paige says despite leaving Greensboro without a trophy, his teammates aren’t going away empty-handed.
“I think we showed a lot of heart this week. We battled four straight times. Obviously, it didn’t go the way we wanted it to today. You know, we were going after 50-50 balls with everything we had. So people can say what they want, but the proof is in the fact that we competed at the highest level this past week,” Paige says.
But what may have been the most decisive factor to the outcome was the foul shooting discrepancy. The Irish got to the free throw line for a whopping 32 attempts while the Heels managed a mere seven shots from the charity stripe.
In the first half, the three-point shooting discrepancy told the tale. The Irish knocked down five of their eleven attempts while the Heels only managed to connect on one of their eight tries.
Additionally, getting to the free throw line was a factor in Notre Dame’s 39-34 lead at intermission. The Irish shot 11 foul shots to Carolina’s measly 2 attempts.
Things were going smoothly for the Tar Heels early in the second half. UNC led 63-54 with 9:59 remaining. But from there, the rug was taken out from under them. Carolina froze. Notre Dame rose.
The Irish left the Heels in the dust with a 26-3 run that seized full control of the contest and in turn, earned the program’s first ever conference championship.
The Carolina faithful were sent home to various corners of the Tar Heel State unhappy. The few Notre Dame fans were left to bask in their team’s historic performance, becoming just the third program to ever beat both Duke and Carolina on the way to an ACC Tournament championship held in North Carolina.
Notre Dame (29-5) and Carolina (24-11) will now await their NCAA Tournament placements Sunday evening.
It was the Tar Heels’ chance at cementing a spot atop the ACC, and it was a chance to win a statement game that would have sent a signal to the rest of the nation. Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, that chance was missed.
In an emotional loss, Carolina fell to the Fighting Irish, 89-79, at home on Thursday, to drop to an even 2-2 mark in the ACC and 15-3 overall. Notre Dame improved to 16-2 and 4-1 in the conference.
With two very skilled teams, Thursday’s contest came down to a matter of toughness. The game included 11 ties and four lead changes, and Notre Dame fought hard to try to kick-start their next attempt at a 30-plus away game streak that was snapped earlier this month in a loss at Miami.
“Well, we’re extremely disappointed. So that’s about all I can say. Turner was tough. I thought we made a good run at them, and got it down to one point, but just didn’t have enough fire power, I guess. I guess that’s why she was the best player coming out last year because she was tough. [Lindsay] Allen was really tough up there, too. We’ll just regroup and move on,” UNC head coach Sylvia Hatchell says.
UNC forward Stephanie Mavunga wasn’t her usual self offensively, finishing with 6 points and 7 rebounds, and with junior forward Xylina McDaniel out indefinitely, Carolina struggled defensively in the paint.
Notre Dame star Brianna Turner had a stat-stuffing night, finishing with career highs in points and rebounds, 29 and 18, and tying her career high in blocks with 7 swats.
Jewell Loyd, Notre Dame’s usual go-to scorer, hasn’t had a night where she scored under ten points in 60 games, but that was cut tonight as she finished with only 8 points in 36 minutes. Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw knew Loyd would was knocked off of her game by an illness, but says she was proud of how her team rallied without her.
Carolina’s largest lead came with less than five minutes to play in the first half. The Tar Heels were up eleven points, but three minutes later, the game had already been tied back up by the surging Fighting Irish.
Turner continued to dominate well into the second half, and guard Lindsay Allen made a great contribution to Notre Dame’s offense from the backcourt to finish with a career high 24 points and 9 assists.
UNC went on a run late in the game to close a 14 point deficit. Allisha Gray came alive for the Tar Heels in the second half, scoring 16 points to finish with 20. Just when Carolina came within one point, a string of unfavorable calls for the Tar Heels got Coach Hatchell riled up, and many players in foul trouble.
Jessica Washington and Latifah Coleman each got off a few last second three-point attempts, but none fell, and Notre Dame finished with a victory that left Carolina heartbroken.
Muffet McGraw is now 4-1 all time against Hatchell’s North Carolina team.
But Coach Hatchell vows to make amends soon.
“I thought the effort was good. We had trouble keeping people out there, but I thought we played hard. We just didn’t get it done enough. We’ll keep working. We’ll get them eventually. Trust me, we’ll get them eventually,” Coach Hatchell says.
Up next for the Tar Heels are two away games against Clemson and NC State, before returning to Carmichael in ten days to play rival Duke.
***Listen to the story***
With the victory, the Fighting Irish improved to 15-1 overall and a 3-0 mark in conference. The Tar Heels are now 5-2 at the Smith Center this year.
The Irish shot 46 percent from the floor and got 18 points from junior forward Zach Auguste to lead all scorers.
Despite the ‘lights out’ shooting from the nation’s leading team in field goal percentage, the Tar Heels clawed all the way back to claim a 70-69 lead late in the contest. But from there, Carolina would rue missing its final eight shots.
“Kennedy [Meeks] had two looks inside and that’s where I keep talking about he’s got to get more explosive because he just didn’t have much lift at that point. We missed a lot of shots. We had some good ones. We didn’t make many , or we didn’t make enough – that’s for sure,” UNC head coach Roy Williams says.
***Listen to Roy Williams’ postgame remarks***
As a team, UNC shot at a 36.9-percent clip overall and knocked down a mere 25 percent of their three-point attempts.
Junior point guard Marcus Paige led UNC with 15 points but missed the final potential game-winning shot with four defenders blanketing him.
J.P. Tokoto opened the scoring proceedings for the Tar Heels with the first two baskets for the home team that ignited the Dean Dome crowd.
But the Irish came out firing early, knocking down shots with ease to stake out a 10-6 lead with 16:33 on the first half clock.
***Click here for the full game photo gallery***
At one point, the Irish even stretched their advantage out to a full 10 points midway through the first 20 minutes of play with imperious shooting.
Notre Dame sharpshooter Demetrius Jackson lit it up in the first half, draining five of his seven attempts and tallying 12 points.
But a pair of 6-0 runs by UNC helped the Tar Heels close the halftime deficit down to a more manageable 38-34 margin.
With a more invigorated defense that was contesting every Notre Dame shot and 10 points of production out of Paige, the Tar Heels flipped the momentum heading into the locker room.
Carolina came out with intensity in the second half, and a fortuitous bounce off the basket from a Tokoto three-point attempt allowed the ball to sink through the nets to the delight of the crowd.
Big man Kennedy Meeks picked u his fourth foul just a few minutes into the second half and promptly took a seat on the bench.
Meanwhile, the prolific Irish attack was soaring, making shots from everywhere on the floor to hold the Tar Heels at bay and rebuild the advantage out to nine with 15:15 to play.
Notre Dame senior Pat Connaughton got the hot hand in the second half, but it was UNC freshman Theo Pinson who provided a much-needed boost off the bench to a waning Carolina attack.
With 11:51 to go in the contest, Notre Dame held a 57-49 edge.
Up until late, the Irish hadn’t missed a single free throw. That all changed when normally reliable Connaughton missed not one, but both free throws.
In typical Paige style, he popped a three-pointer on the other end to change the momentum of the game once again heading down the stretch. The Tar Heels trailed 69-68 with 3:09 to play.
But despite Notre Dame missing free throws the rest of the way, Carolina couldn’t muster enough offensive production, missing their final eight shots, to seize victory and when the buzzer sounded on a final Paige three-point heave, the game came to a close.
“Man, I’m proud of our group. We held off a lot of runs and did what we needed to do to escape, but [it was] a tough situation. I thought we were really poised. Every time they made a run we came out and executed and gave us a little bit of a cushion, and we needed all that cushion down the stretch,” Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey says.
Next up for the Tar Heels comes another high-powered ACC matchup with the No. 5 Louisville Cardinals traveling to Chapel Hill Saturday.
The No. 19 North Carolina men’s basketball team, 11-3 on the season and 1-0 in conference play, looks to build off the momentum of a road win at Clemson by defending its home court Monday night in an ACC battle with No. 14 Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish come in sporting a 14-1 record and 2-0 mark in league action.
***Listen to the story***
For the first time in a while, UNC head coach Roy Williams was pleased with his team’s play Saturday night in the runaway victory at Littlejohn Coliseum.
“The last part of the first half, I thought we were really good. That’s probably the best that we’ve played over the course of the season. We shared the ball, we didn’t turn it over, we got good shots, we made shots, and we got some stops at the defensive end of the floor,” Coach Williams says.
Having dropped their past two ACC openers, Coach Williams says the Tar Heels were extra motivated not to let history repeat itself.
“Everybody kept reminding us that we lost the conference opener two years in a row, so we wanted to make sure we didn’t do that. We wanted to play, and I think we played well,” Coach Williams says.
Monday’s opponent, Notre Dame, is leading the nation in effective field goal percentage at 63, including a 40.4-percent park from behind the arc.
Going up against one of the hottest-shooting teams in the country, UNC will be looking for freshman Justin Jackson to continue to produce on the offensive end.
Coach Williams says Jackson’s confidence grows when he can find the net early on in games, like he did against Clemson.
“Justin was really good in the first half in the last game as well. It helps his confidence that the ball is going in the basket a little bit more. He’s going to be a good scorer, and I think he’s a good shooter. He can score the ball and does some good things,” Coach Williams says.
Carolina leads the ACC in offensive rebounding percentage at 44 percent – good enough for third nationally. That’s a trend Coach Williams would like to see continue against the Irish.
“We didn’t shoot it great in the second half ourselves. I think the back boards, you can’t say that one area is more important by far than everything, but I happen to like the rebounding as a key thing for me. I think we did some good things there,” Coach Williams says.
Another encouraging sign for the Tar Heels is they’re playing cleaner. Saturday night, Carolina committed just six turnovers, tying its fewest in 12 seasons under Coach Williams.
The Tar Heels would do well to limit the turnovers against the offensively efficient Irish, who are coming off a thrilling double-overtime victory over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.
UNC leads the head-to-head series with Notre Dame 18-4 and won the most recent meeting 63-61 last March in Chapel Hill.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/carolina-notre-dame-square-off-big-monday/
Small mistakes, again, doomed the UNC football team.
***Listen to the story***
UNC head coach Larry Fedora says the 50-43 loss at Notre Dame was tough to swallow in the locker room, especially with all the self-inflicting wounds the team suffered.
“They’re hurting. They know that was a heck of a football team they played today. You play a game like that, and you feel like you’re not that far away. We just need to get over the hump. We’ve got to get better in all three areas. We’ve got to eliminate the mistakes we’re making and do much better with the details, just the little things,” Coach Fedora says.
In total, the 2-4 Tar Heels tallied nine penalties for 94 yards. UNC also tossed in a pair of turnovers – one lost fumble and an interception.
But one bright spot for the Tar Heels came at the quarterback position. Coach Fedora abandoned his typical rotation formula, saying he didn’t want to disrupt Marquise Williams’ fine rhythm in South Bend.
“We decided to take some pressure off 10 [Mitch Trubisky] and let 12 [Williams] go. He was moving the ball. We were effective against a good defense. I thought 12 had a really good feel with what he was doing and seeing, so we decided to keep going with him,” Coach Fedora says.
Williams’ dual-threat ability was on full display at Notre Dame Stadium last weekend, avoiding tackles and even finding the end zone with his feet.
Missed tackles, however, plagued the UNC defense yet again, leading to big plays that Coach Fedora says crippled his team’s chances.
“You can’t give up big plays. If you give up big plays, you’re going to have a hard time winning. That’s one of the two things that we look at – the turnover battle and the explosive play battle,” Coach Fedora says.
Uncharacteristically, mistakes even began to infect the special teams department Saturday.
Carolina missed a field goal, had an extra point blocked, and botched a makeable two-point conversion. And don’t forget, the usually reliable Tommy Hibbard punted from the 33-yard line in the third quarter and sailed the ball into the end zone for a net gain of 13 yards, costing the UNC defense valuable field position.
The most controversial special teams play was the roughing-the- snapper penalty that kept alive an Irish fourth-quarter scoring drive. The Tar Heels were leading and about to get the ball back. Oh, what could have been?
With all that said, Carolina did show improvement and impressive fight on the road in a hostile environment against a top-five opponent, but until the ‘little things’ are cleaned up, the Tar Heels may have to settle for more moral victories.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/little-things-still-costing-tar-heels-big-time/
The North Carolina football team took a 36-35 lead into the fourth quarter. But the Tar Heels couldn’t hold on and lost 50-43 at the No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish Saturday in South Bend, dropping to a 2-4 record.
***Listen to the recap***
With the win, the Irish improved to 6-0 on the season and now set up a top-five showdown with No. 1 Florida State next weekend in Tallahassee.
Irish quarterback Everett Golson threw three touchdown passes to overcome his three turnovers and keep Notre Dame unblemished in 2014.
A controversial roughing-the-snapper penalty on UNC linebacker Norkeithus Otis kept alive the go-ahead touchdown drive for Notre Dame in the fourth quarter. From there, the Irish seized control of the contest and ran out the clock with strong ball control.
The Tar Heels remained winless all-time in South Bend. Carolina’s 43 points on Saturday are the third most scored in a UNC loss in school history.
UNC junior quarterback Marquise Williams completed 24 of 41 passes for 303 yards and two touchdowns. He also tallied a career-high 132 yards on the ground, including a rushing touchdown. Williams became the first Tar Heel in school history to pass for 300 yards and rush for 100 in the same game.
“Marquise [Williams] played his heart out,” UNC head coach Larry Fedora Larry Fedora says. “He gave us a chance to win the football game. He ran the ball hard, he made some great throws, and he was a fighter out there today.”
Williams didn’t stop there; he snagged a 23-yard pass from receiver Quinshad Davis for a score as well. Redshirt freshman Mitch Trubisky didn’t see the field for the first time this season. The UNC offense experienced good rhythm for most of the contest.
But the UNC defense struggled to stop the Notre Dame offense, giving up at least 50 points for the third time in 2014, a record for the most 50-plus-point games surrendered in a single season by the Tar Heels.
Next up for the Tar Heels is a return home to Chapel Hill to take on 5-1 Georgia Tech at Kenan Stadium in a critical ACC Coastal contest.
The North Carolina football team, with a 2-3 record, heads to South Bend to take on an in-form 5-0 Notre Dame squad ranked No. 5 nationally. The two programs will collide for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday afternoon in a nationally televised contest.
***Listen to the preview***
Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson remains in the conversation for the Heisman Trophy in 2014.
UNC head coach Larry Fedora says Golson has improved tremendously as a passer and has the luxury of playing behind a stout offensive line that averages over 300 pounds per player.
“He has really grown as a passer. He can zip the ball and really spins it well. He’s got a tremendous offensive line – that has probably been the biggest thing for him this year. They’re big up front. They can move you,” Coach Fedora says.
But the true strength of the Fighting Irish lies in a dominating defense that’s only giving up a measly 12 points per contest.
Coach Fedora says Notre Dame’s size and speed is a formidable combo.
“They have the No. 3 scoring defense in country right now. They’re big and can run on the back end, not that they can’t run on the front end. They’re really big up front – 300-plus [pounds] across the front. We’ll have our work cut out for us up there,” Coach Fedora says.
Defensively, UNC has shown improvement in the past couple games, especially against the run. But this Saturday, Coach Fedora says they’ll have to guard against the dual-threat ability of Notre Dame’s Golson.
“They’re going to go as far as he takes them. He’s really a good player. He can run and beat you with his legs on any play. He can turn an ordinary play into a great play. He’s what makes it tick. He’s a really good football player,” Coach Fedora says.
The Irish are coming off a thrilling come-from-behind victory against Stanford. But head coach Brian Kelly says it’s vital for his team to put that behind them and focus on a talented Tar Heel team.
“Coming off a win against Stanford, it was important that we got right back to work against a very athletic and young, aggressive team in North Carolina,” Coach Kelly says.
For sophomore offensive tackle Jon Heck, the trip to South Bend will be a family affair. But he says his family members won’t be pulling for Carolina.
“My entire family went to Notre Dame. My uncle is actually a priest there. My grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins went there and are going to be there. They say they want me to do well, but they’re cheering for Notre Dame,” Heck says.
The Tar Heels will certainly have nothing to lose against the heavily-favored Irish, but Coach Fedora says he’s relishing the opportunity.
“I think it’s a tremendous opportunity sitting before us right now. It should be a lot of fun to find out how we’re going to respond and who we are. It should be a great game,” Coach Fedora says.
Carolina and Notre Dame will meet for the 19th time in a series that dates back to 1949. The Tar Heels trail the all-time series, only managing to emerge victorious on two occasions.
UNC’s last win over a top-10 team was a 31-28 victory over No.4 Miami in 2004. Coach Fedora says he’s looking to make some history this weekend, but will his error-prone Tar Heels be up to the challenge of a smothering Irish defense and an efficient offense? Saturday will provide the answers.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/upset-minded-tar-heels-meet-5-fighting-irish/
The UNC men’s basketball team eases into its 2014-15 campaign, but the newly released schedule is highlighted by some high-level opponents.
The new 15-member Atlantic Coast Conference is stacked with talent bringing Louisville to the mix this year after Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Notre Dame joined last year. The Tar Heels face the Cardinals in a home-and-home conference series this season; Carolina faces Syracuse and Notre Dame in the Smith Center and will travel to Pittsburgh.
Only one of the UNC-Duke matchups is scheduled to be carried on both ESPN and the ACC Network this year. The rivalry is the only contest carried by two networks. The ACC Network could very well still pick up the season finale in Chapel Hill on March 7.
Out of conference, the Tar Heels travel to Lexington, Kentucky to face the Wildcats in mid-December. Last year, Kentucky traveled to Chapel Hill where Carolina handed out the 82-77 defeat of Wildcats.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, UNC travels to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis. Carolina opens the tournament on Paradise Island against Butler and will face two other opponents out of the group of Oklahoma, UCLA, UAB, Florida, Georgetown, or Wisconsin.
Those dying to get to basketball season, you’ll be happy. Late Night with Roy comes three weeks earlier this year. The unofficial season tipoff is October 3.
The ACC officially announced the 2014-15 schedules Wednesday.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-mens-basketball-schedule-released/
With the loss, Notre Dame dropped to 15-16 on the season and 6-12 in conference action.
***Listen to the story***
The Tar Heels raced away from the Fighting Irish early on with in-form play from J.P. Tokoto. Carolina claimed the 41-27 lead at the intermission with a clean performance, only committing three turnovers despite shuffling nearly the entire team on and off the court due to Senior Day tradition.
Notre Dame went on a 10-1 run to start the second half. Carolina only managed to score eight points in over ten minutes after intermission. The free throw shooting woes continued to plague UNC as the Tar Heels shot 45.5 percent from the line on 22 attempts.
The Irish claimed the 56-54 lead with 3:46 to play, but Carolina closed out the game in fine form with clutch shots by both Marcus Paige and James Michael McAdoo.
Impressively, after falling behind 49-46, the Tar Heel defense held Notre Dame without a field goal for seven minutes and 52 seconds.
“Senior Night is always emotional to me. It’s emotional for Leslie [McDonald] because he didn’t have the kind of game that he’s had recently. Those four seniors have meant a lot to us,” Head Coach Roy Williams says.
***Listen to Roy Williams’ postgame remarks***
McAdoo led the scoring charge for the Tar Heels with 14 points while Tokoto reached double figures with an 11-point contribution.
Pat Connaughton provided 17 points for the Irish, but Eric Atkins led all scorers with 21 points. Despite the impressive outings, UNC overcame and emerged victorious on Senior Night.
The opening tipoff was won by Notre Dame, but they threw it away to hand the ball back to the senior Tar Heels and McAdoo.
Wade Moody popped a three-pointer to the delight of the crowd. McAdoo scored on the ensuing possession to give UNC the 4-0 lead.
McAdoo scored and drew the foul. He knocked down the foul shot after the senior role players were all relegated to the bench following their ceremonial start to the game.
With 16:45 on the first half clock, Carolina held the 8-4 advantage. Meeks scored inside off a sharp McAdoo assist.
Austin Burgett knocked down a three-pointer to reduce the Irish deficit down to four points with 14:43 on the clock.
J.P. Tokoto drained a deep jumper, finding some space while the Irish continued to struggle on the offensive end with turnovers and sluggish play.
Atkins scored on a smooth shot to close the gap down to three, but Kennedy Meeks replied with a score of his own to push the Tar Heels ahead 16-11 with 11:48 to play in the half.
Joel James powered his way to the basket, making the shot and getting fouled. He made the free throw to give UNC the 21-13 lead with 8:38 to play before halftime.
McAdoo flung the ball through the nets as the Carolina offense was roaring along, shredding the Fighting Irish defense.
McDonald nailed a shot from behind the arc to give the Tar Heels a 28-16 edge with 5:30 to play in the half. Meanwhile, Atkins continued to be the one player for the Irish who was keeping them in the contest, knocking down another beautiful jumper.
Paige responded on the other end, matching Atkins with a three-pointer of his own. Tokoto’s athleticism was on full display as he weaved around a couple Notre Dame defenders with an electric score.
After another McDonald strike, Carolina had the 35-22 advantage with 3:01 left in the half.
Tokoto streaked to the basket again out of a timeout, making the shot and picking up a foul in the process. With 2:13 on the first half clock, Carolina held a 37-24 lead over Notre Dame.
Freshman Steve Vasturia pulled away for a made jumper, but Tokoto continued his offensive storm with a score for the Tar Heels right after.
At the half, it was Carolina with the 41-27 advantage. The Tar Heels shot 50 percent from the floor in the first half.
Tokoto was leading the way with 9 points while McAdoo contributed 8 points for the Tar Heels. But even more impressively, Carolina only committed three turnovers in a half where the entire team saw action.
Notre Dame, meanwhile, was connecting on 42 percent of its shots. Atkins produced a team-leading 10 points for the Irish.
Pat Connaughton drained a deep three-pointer to trim the Tar Heel lead down to 42-37 as the Irish were on an 10-1 run to start the second half.
Brice Johnson scored UNC’s first field goal of the second half, but the Irish offense was rolling now. Atkins scored on the other end. With 15:43 to play, Carolina held a slim 44-39 advantage.
The lead was cut down to three when Atkins hit another jumper, and a three-point snipe tied the game at 44-44 with 14:41 to play.
Johnson responded with a score to break the tie as the crowd drew back into the contest. Notre Dame was making everything they looked at from the floor, sinking another long-range three-pointer to claim the lead at 47-46 with 13:38 left in the game.
A big block by McAdoo came at the 12:05 mark with Carolina trailing 49-46 with 11:57 to play.
Nate Britt drained a deep jumper to get the Carolina offense out of its funk while the defense responded with a stop.
After a turnaround jumper that sunk through the nets by McAdoo, the Tar Heels were back on in front 50-49 with 9:42 to play.
***Listen to the call by the Tar Heel Sports Network’s Jones Angell***
Britt took a hard foul in transition that left him relegated to the floor for a while before he hobbled off the court. Hubert stepped in to shoot his foul shots, but missed both.
McDonald stepped out of bounds to commit a turnover, and with 7:40 to play, the Tar Heels were clinging to a 50-49 lead.
McAdoo got to the line and missed an ugly two free throws to the groan of the crowd. Paige darted into the paint and calmly floated in a shot that gave UNC the 52-50 edge, but Notre Dame answered right back to tie the game at 52-52 with 5:19 remaining.
Britt fired in a shot that regained the lead for the Tar Heels. Atkins nailed a jumper for the Irish to retie the game and then take the lead with a runaway layup by Vasturia that earned the 56-54 lead for Notre Dame with 3:46 to play.
McAdoo went to foul line, but only made one of two. The Tar Heels trailed by a point. But he made up for it on the next possession with a contested shot that fell through the nets in transition to give UNC the lead at 57-56.
Johnson followed McAdoo’s lead with a score and a foul after a Notre Dame turnover, but he missed the free throw. UNC led by three.
Tokoto answered the bell again with a clutch make that ignited the crowd with 1:15 to play. Carolina had saved its best stuff for the close yet again, claiming a 61-56 lead with 1:15 to play.
Connaughton worked his way inside for a score and a foul. He calmly sank the point after to close the Irish to within two points with 40 seconds left.
Paige was fouled with 17 seconds remaining. He knocked down one of two. But the Irish scored quickly on the other end and fouled Paige again. He missed another free throw to leave the door open for the Irish, but time expired, giving Carolina the victory.
***Listen to the call***
Next up for the Tar Heels is a rematch with No. 4 Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium Saturday night.
Click here for the game photo gallery.
The No. 19 North Carolina men’s basketball team, 22-7 overall and 12-4 in the ACC, will be aiming to make it twelve straight victories Monday night in the Smith Center when it takes on struggling Notre Dame, 15-15 on the season and 6-11 in the conference.
Head Coach Roy Williams says he credits some of the role players for keeping the Carolina winning streak alive.
“They really have bought in to the playing harder and the ‘sense of urgency’ idea I’ve talked about all year. I think one thing that’s been helpful, and I won’t say a surprise because that acts like you don’t care or don’t think your teammates can do something, but Joel [James] gave us three or four good minutes, Desmond [Hubert] gave us three or four good minutes. Those guys came in and gave us some good minutes,” Coach Williams says.
Some of the Tar Heel players have discussed the late-season fatigue they are feeling. Coach Williams, however, says that’s no excuse for not giving it everything you’ve got every time you step out on the floor.
“If you can’t get fired up 29 times there is something wrong with you. I don’t buy all that junk. Yet everybody says it. I think it’s a bunch of junk. If I get to play 29 games, I’m going to play my ‘blankenty-blank’ off 29 times,” Coach Williams says.
Notre Dame comes into Monday’s matchup off a narrow overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Saturday.
The Tar Heels lead the all-time series with the Fighting Irish 17-4 and won their most recent outing 73-62 at South Bend back on Feb. 8. It will be Notre Dame’s first trip to Chapel Hill since 1993.
Coach Williams says in the special seasons, you have to be able to pull out some games when you aren’t necessarily playing great basketball.
“We’ve won some games early. It hasn’t all been pretty well. You have to understand that sometimes you’re going to play really well and you hope you win those games. Sometimes, you could even lose those. To have a great year, you’ve got to win a lot of games ugly to be honest with you,” Coach Williams says.
Monday will mark the final home games for seniors Leslie McDonald, James Manor, Wade Moody and Denzel Robinson. It is sure to be an emotional night in the SmithCenter.
Coverage on 97.9 FM, WCHL begins at 5:30 p.m. with Countdown to Tipoff.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/hot-carolina-squad-hopes-send-seniors-top-notre-dame/