GREENSBORO – The No. 15 North Carolina men’s basketball team fell 80-75 in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals Friday afternoon to drop to 23-9 overall on the season.

UNC vs. Pitt 060With the victory, Pittsburgh improved to 25-8 on the year and advanced to face top-seeded Virginia in Saturday’s semifinal round at 1 p.m.

“We had some chances. We really tried hard. Got it to four with the ball two different occasions and got it three and didn’t stop, but the kids tried exceptionally hard and they’re a wonderful bunch of kids. But we just didn’t play nearly as well as we wanted to play early,” UNC Head Coach Roy Williams said after the game.

Pitt senior center Talib Zanna outrebounded the entire Carolina team until midway through the second half. In total, he grabbed 21 rebounds, tied for third-most in an ACC Tournament game. Zanna recorded his 11th double-double of the season.

Carolina fell behind 25-8 at the 7:14 mark to go in the first half and started off the contest 0-7 from the floor. It proved too much to overcome in the end.

As usual, UNC sophomore point guard Marcus Paige saved his best stuff for the end. He finished with a game-high 27 points, registering his 11th game with more than 20 points this season.

UNC vs. Pitt 044Sophomore Brice Johnson finished with 16 points for the Tar Heels, going a sharp 8-9 from the floor. James Michael McAdoo ended up with 15 points.

“I think we can learn from the things we did well in that last eight minute stretch. We played really well. We forced a lot of turnovers and we were able to make things happen with our traps, which will be helpful next week,” Paige said in his postgame remarks.

The Tar Heels closed within four points multiple times, but just couldn’t muster the strength to complete the gritty comeback effort.

Carolina finished the contest shooting 41 percent as a team while Pitt shot at a much better 54 percent clip. Additionally and crucially, the Panthers outrebounded the Tar Heels 43-35.

UNC vs. Pitt 035Senior Leslie McDonald had a disappointing ACC Tournament finale, fouling out in the second half with zero points.

Next up for the Tar Heels will be the NCAA Tournament. UNC will await its seeding and regional location this Sunday.

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