The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday April 2nd

Forte's Hot Shooting Lifts Tar Heels Again

Instead, North Carolina's coach had to settle for one under Joseph Forte's scoring total.

Forte scored 33 points on Wednesday night to lead fifth-ranked UNC to a 88-81 victory against 13th-ranked Virginia in front of 21,750 fans at the Smith Center.

Forte hit 13 of his 23 field-goal attempts from the field and also finished with five rebounds and four assists.

"He's a tremendous player," Virginia coach Pete Gillen said. "He takes it in the flow of the game, and he certainly was marvelous tonight."

Forte, as has become his calling, put the Tar Heels (16-2, 6-0 in the ACC) on his back when they desperately needed points. After Virginia cut UNC's lead to 75-71 with 5:33 left, Forte drilled a

3-pointer from the left wing.

Forte hit 5-of-6 attempts from the foul line in the final 4:25 and scored 10 of North Carolina's last 13 points.

Teammate Ronald Curry missed all five of his attempts from the foul line in the final 3:19, but Forte clinched the win by hitting two free throws with 16.8 seconds remaining.

"I feel like one of these games we're going to come up short," Forte said. "I feel like at the end of the game, I don't think there's too many players that can stop me.

"That's where I'm going to separate myself from the rest of the players."

The Cavaliers (13-4, 2-4) put a scare into Forte and the rest of the Tar Heels thanks to an improved shooting touch in the second half. The Tar Heels, who had been limiting teams to 38-percent shooting, held Virginia to 32 percent in the first half and led 50-35.

The Cavaliers opened the second half on a 16-4 run and got within three points on three separate occasions in the second half.

Virginia hit 55 percent of its shots in the final 20 minutes and got many close looks thanks to dribble penetration by Donald Hand, who had five second-half assists and finished with game with nine.

Virginia sophomore Travis Watson was the beneficiary of many of those passes. The 6-foot-8 center controlled the paint and had 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting from the floor in the second half.

"I'm confident every time I touch the ball," Watson said. "Just because I'm short doesn't mean I'm not going to try to shoot over them. When I hit a couple in a row, I'm not going to stop shooting the ball."

Watson also helped limit North Carolina center Brendan Haywood to four shot attempts in the contest. Haywood hit all four of his tries and finished the game with nine points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.

UNC's starting frontline of Haywood, Kris Lang and Jason Capel combined for 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting in the first half. Virginia's starting frontline outscored the trio 29-10 in the second half.

"They started believing in the second half we could win," Gillen said. "I don't know if everybody believed in the first half that we would win tonight."

The Tar Heels frustrated the Cavaliers by hitting 10 of their first 17 shots to take a 25-15 lead with 10:09 in the first half.

Forte went to work after that, scoring eight points in a span of

4 minutes, 53 seconds to put UNC ahead 41-32 with 3:35 left in the first half.

Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, Forte saved his best for last.

"He's a player that's capable of doing a lot of things when you put the ball in his hands," Doherty said. "Against their defense, you can't rely on a lot of structured plays. You have to put guys in a position to make good decisions.

"I like the ball in Joe's hands. He can do things just on his own."

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