WASHINGTON, D.C. — The nets are gone.
They took them. And so are the posters, the ones they ripped off the white concrete walls of the Verizon Center. There’s a little confetti left — red, white and blue — on the court, but not much. They snagged most of that, too.
Really, the North Carolina men’s basketball team took everything Saturday. The momentum, the chance to prove itself, and ultimately, the game.
They stole back the ACC Tournament championship, defeating second-seeded Virginia 61-57.
Everyone played a part, from Kenny Williams’ defense on ACC Player of the Year Malcolm Brogdon to Brice Johnson’s team-high nine rebounds to Marcus Paige’s resilience.
Stick with Paige. Oft-criticized this season for his scoring struggles, Paige carried the load offensively against Notre Dame in the ACC Tournament semifinal on Friday. But that was then, and this is now, and there’s another 40 minutes to play.
And for the second night in a row, Paige captured the moment.
No, it wasn’t as pronounced as it was against the Fighting Irish, when he hit four 3-pointers. But down four points in the second half Saturday, his teammates seemingly unable to score, Paige had the ball.
And he took over.