Charleston, S.C. — The circus was in Charleston on Monday night.
Andrew Goudelock and the College of Charleston Cougars put on a shotmaking exhibition at the expense of No. 9 North Carolina, and the Cougars came away with the overtime win, 82-79.
Goudelock drove right around the perimeter in the final seconds, around a screen. Deon Thompson (6-foot-10) switched to harrass the smaller guard with his length. Goudelock (6-foot-2) had to fire a rainbow from 35 feet out while falling down.
But the circus act was too good to end, and his prayer splashed through the net with 2.1 seconds remaining to tie the game and send it into overtime.
It culminated 40 minutes of improbable shooting by Charleston (8-6), which fired with reckless abandon (34 three-point attempts) but also connected with startling frequency (13 three-point shots made).
Goudelock finished with a game-high 24 points, earned on a combination of runners, floaters, and three-point daggers fired over the much taller wall of UNC (11-4) defenders.
"He hit a tough three-point shot," Ed Davis said. "He got a good look at it."
Gouldelock and company didn't need much for a good look. As a team, C of C drained 13 three-pointers, including eight in the second half. The smaller, quicker guards of Bobby Cremins' club found open looks as the taller, slower Tar Heel defenders struggled to keep up.
It didn't help that two of UNC's starters missed the game with injury. Wing players Marcus Ginyard and Will Graves — the two best three-point shooters on UNC's team — sat out Monday's game. The consequences were readily apparent on the defensive end of the floor.
"Some way, some how we've got to get healthy," Roy Williams said. "And if we don't get healthy, those other guys have to step up and make better plays."
Goudelock and fellow slasher Donavan Monroe took whatever shot they wanted as slower defenders sagged off. UNC even put John Henson (6-foot-10 and an imposing wingspan) against Monroe (generously listed at 6-foot-2).
Henson's long arms didn't faze Monroe, who burried a three-pointer as if there were no defenders in the building.
Ed Davis paced the Tar Heels yet again with 19 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks. Thompson chipped in 17, and Leslie McDonald, playing 28 minutes in place of Graves and Ginyard, scored 11.
Dexter Strickland started at shooting guard, but when Larry Drew II earned his fourth foul midway through the second half, Strickland had to run the offense. He finished 2-for-11 with eight points in 33 minutes.
Keyed by seven straight points from Davis, the Tar Heels took an 11-point lead with just 4:02 remaining in regulation.
"I thought it was over," C of C coach Bobby Cremins said after the game.
But College of Charleston roared back and Goudelock had eight points in the rally.
The loss hits home doubly hard for North Carolina, which opens ACC play against Virginia Tech on Sunday and is coming off its fourth straight loss away from home.
"We've got to learn," Williams said. "We have no choice. We've got to get healthy."
After close wins against Rutgers and Albany, UNC coach Roy Williams repeatedly questioned his team's effort and defense. He even called a team meeting on New Year's Eve to get his squad to gel.
Whatever they talked about, it didn't translate to better performance Monday.
"At some point we have to start talking about playing and start playing," Drew said. "I feel like I've heard everything. From the players, from the coaches — at some point we just have to start doing what we say we're going to do."
Thompson did not talk to reporters after the game.
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