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The Daily Tar Heel

Tar Heel women knocked out of ACC tournament as Rountree misses shot

Georgia Tech beat UNC 54-53 to advance to the semifinals.

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UNC forward Krista Gross puts up a shot in Tuesday’s 54-53 loss against Georgia Tech.

GREENSBORO — For everything that North Carolina’s Brittany Rountree did against Clemson on Thursday, it will be what she couldn’t do in Friday’s 54-53 loss to Georgia Tech that makes the most impact.

With two seconds remaining before the final buzzer, Rountree received the ball high beyond the 3-point arc from the baseline inbound. She caught the ball, got into shooting form and pulled the trigger without hesitation.

But this time, instead of a swish, the ball clanked off the front of the rim as the horn sounded and ended UNC’s ACC tournament campaign.

In a tight game with high stakes, a change in one play could have given the Tar Heels the extra points to propel them to the next round.

“One possession, one rebound, one foul and you know one thing here and there that would have made it a different story here,” UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. “Because I really felt like we were going to win this game.”

And early in the first half, it appeared the Tar Heels would do just that.

The Tar Heels came out of the gate aggressively and appeared to be feeding off the energy from both the blowout win yesterday and the overwhelmingly partisan crowd.

UNC (20-11, 9-7 ACC) jumped out to an early 10-2 lead behind two 3-pointers from guard She’la White and baskets from forward Laura Broomfield.

“I really felt like they came out ready, and to have that one big win under your belt in this environment is huge,” Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph said. “And I really thought North Carolina came out and really went at us in the first five minutes.”

But after the initial scoring spurt, UNC cooled off from the floor and was lulled into a false sense of security by its lead. It allowed Georgia Tech (23-7, 12-4 ACC) to sneak back in the game and eventually take the lead until only seven and a half minutes remained in the game.

The Yellow Jackets’ first half dominance was largely a result of their defense. Georgia Tech had 9 steals in the first half while only committing 10 turnovers as compared to UNC’s 3 steals and 16 turnovers.

Georgia Tech also found success in quieting the Tar Heels’ senior leader, Chay Shegog. Through playing tight defense, the Yellow Jackets only allowed the center to score nine points, nearly six points below her season average.

But UNC didn’t let those factors keep it from being competitive. After back-to-back media and 30 second timeouts late in the second half, UNC put together an 9-2 run and took the lead with six and half minutes remaining for the first time since leading 15-14 in the first half.

UNC’s lead was short-lived as the Yellow Jackets fought for the win until the last seconds of the game.

After Georgia Tech’s Tyaunna Marshall regained the lead off a layup with 90 seconds left in the game, chaos and rushed shots ensued on both ends of the floor.

Both teams missed shots on their next two possessions, but Georgia Tech’s offensive set ended in a deadball after a shot clock violation.

UNC inbounded the ball and was soon fouled by Metra Walthour, running time off the clock and forcing the Tar Heels to inbound the ball again. This time, the pass was thrown away to Marshall who stepped on the half-court line, promptly giving it back to the Tar Heels.

The call gave UNC one last inbound under its own basket with 2 seconds on the clock. Rountree shook free of her defender, received the pass and let the shot fly, only to be met with disappointment seconds later.

“When the shot went up, it seemed like the ball stopped in mid-air,” Joseph said. “When it hit the rim I felt like I could breathe again. I think I stopped breathing for what felt like 20 seconds, when it was really two seconds.”

While Joseph was allowed the luxury of breathing a sigh of relief after the shot, the Tar Heels will be holding their breath until Selection Sunday — wondering what the rest of the postseason has in store.

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