Butts’ buzzer beater lifts Tar Heels past Miami

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Danielle Butts

When sophomore guard Danielle Butts sent an errant pass out of bounds with 14 seconds left while her team was trailing Miami by two, the outcome looked bleak for the No. 11 North Carolina women’s basketball team.

But UNC (19-2, 7-1 ACC) would leave Miami (14-6, 5-4) with coach Sylvia Hatchell’s 898th career win as Butts hit a buzzer-beating jumper to win 64-62.

“When I threw the ball away, I thought about it in the moment. I was like, ‘OK, D, you’ve got to erase that and just make back up for it and just hustle. Don’t worry about it,’” Butts said in a postgame interview. “Because if I would have dwelled on it, then it would have threw me off.”

After Butts’ turnover, senior Tierra Ruffin-Pratt stole the in-bound pass and drove to the net, drawing a foul.

Ruffin-Pratt hit both of the ensuing free throws to tie the game at 62 and finished with a team-high 19 points.

Then, following a missed Miami lay-up, UNC sophomore Brittany Rountree found Butts wide open to clinch it.

“Me and Brittany made eye contact, and I knew to be ready for the ball,” Butts said. “She did a good job of controlling the ball and making sure she didn’t turn it over, and then she saw me open in the corner.”

Avoiding turnovers was crucial. Sloppy play is becoming a tradition in the UNC-Miami series, as the teams combined Sunday for 56 turnovers. Last year’s game at Miami — a 61-37 Miami win — ended with 58 turnovers.

Butts played 21 minutes and recorded 11 rebounds for the Tar Heels in an effort to combat UNC’s foul trouble.

Senior Krista Gross fouled out with 2:04 remaining, and Xylina McDaniel, Waltiea Rolle and Rountree all had four fouls.

After Maryland’s stars dismantled a normally stout Tar Heel defense on Thursday, the Tar Heels neutralized Stefanie Yderstrom, who entered the game as the team’s leading scorer.

Yderstrom, who averages 12.9 points per game, shot one-for-13 and finished with six points and four turnovers.

She made her first field goal attempt — a 3-pointer to tie the game at 53 — with 4:09 remaining in the second half.

In her place, Miami senior forward Morgan Stroman exploded for a career-high 28 points and tied a season-best 13 rebounds.

“She’s so quick to the ball; she’s so athletic,” Hatchell said of Stroman. “In timeouts, we would say, ‘Can anybody box 32 out? Can anybody keep her off the boards?’”

But Stroman’s career game was in vain, thanks to Butts’ first career buzzer beater, which she knew was going in once it left her hand.

“We came back, and adrenaline was working hard,” Butts said. “It was just one of those feelings where you know it’s going in.”

Contact the desk editor at sports@dailytarheel.com.

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