True, the Tar Heels didn't defeat Virginia on Tuesday night, but they came close -- with the help of the charity stripe.
UNC got to the free throw line 33 times during the game, hitting 27 of them. The team was held to a season-low 17 field goals and shot 34.7 percent for the game.
"I thought our foul shooting kept us in the game," said North Carolina coach Matt Doherty.
Jason Capel, who entered the game an 81.4-percent career free-throw shooter, was 1-of-11 from the floor but 10-for-10 from the free-throw line. Jawad Williams hit one of his two field-goal attempts, but he sank 7 of 8 free throws.
As the minutes ticked down, Capel did all he could to get to the line again, bending into a defender on a 3-pointer and later going down in traffic under the hoop.
Williams, who has made little more than 50 percent of them this year, said he's been spending an extra hour or two after practice on his foul shots. He has hit 18 of his last 24 free throws.
After Virginia stretched its lead back to seven with 3:20 to go, the Tar Heels got to the line three times. Travis Watson got called for his fourth, sending Kris Lang to the line. Lang, who went 3-of-5 from the charity stripe, made one of two.
Capel then scored UNC's next four points after being fouled by Elton Brown and Travis Clark, respectively.
"We fouled too much," said Virginia coach Pete Gillen. "Between the free throws and the zone, there was not much rhythm to the game."
UNC's ability to get to the free-throw line might have something to do with the ACC's recent crackdown on fouling.
UVa. got called for 24 personal fouls while UNC had 20. All of Virginia's starters were in foul trouble late in the game, and Clark and Watson had four.
North Carolina didn't have quite as much foul trouble after Brian Bersticker was disqualified in the middle of the second half on an over-the-back call.
"I don't know," said Bersticker, who fouled out with 11:51 left on the clock. "I don't know if it's the crackdown or not."
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