Guard Tomas Woldetensae sank a game-winning 3-pointer with 0.3 seconds left to lead Virginia past North Carolina, 64-62, on Saturday night at the Smith Center.
The Tar Heels (10-15, 3-11 ACC) have now lost five games in a row, and a second at home in heartbreaking fashion after last Saturday’s overtime loss to Duke. They held a brief 62-61 lead after guard Christian Keeling was fouled on a 3-pointer and made all three free throws with 10.3 seconds left.
From the start, this game was unsurprisingly slow. Eight minutes in, the Tar Heels and Cavaliers were tied at 9-9. And although UNC racked up 10 turnovers early, poor shooting from both sides kept the score competitive.
North Carolina relied on Anthony to create against Virginia’s vaunted pack defense, and he did so early — especially on a slashing and-one layup that made it 17-15 UVa. That drive started a pretty stretch of basketball in which UNC made five of seven shots and Virginia made four in a row.
After a circus and-one layup by guard Kihei Clark, the Cavaliers led 26-20. But the Tar Heels didn’t slow down. UNC made its last six shots — none bigger than a game-tying floater by Anthony — to tie the halftime score at 28-28. The team also shot 13 of 23 (56.5 percent) in those first 20 minutes.
Anthony and Keeling, who got his first start since December, were UNC’s main contributors to start the second half, scoring the team’s first nine points. At the under-12 timeout, their efforts had UNC again tied with UVa. at 39-39.
The Cavaliers made it 45-41 after Anthony briefly left the floor with a bloodied forehead from a loose elbow. The first-year returned, though, and Garrison Brooks made two huge plays — a 3-pointer and a dunk — to quickly get UNC ahead. At the 7:23 mark, the Tar Heels led 48-47.
The ACC opponents kept trading buckets. Consecutive UVa. 3-pointers made it 53-48. Leaky Black and Brooks scored to again narrow the deficit. With four minutes left, Virginia was up 55-52. And the Cavaliers hung onto that lead, just barely at times, to stay up 57-55 with two minutes left.
After UNC forced a shot-clock violation with 1:17 left, Anthony missed a go-ahead 3-pointer. Armando Bacot was fouled, though, and made two game-tying free throws in a one-and-one situation.
At 57-57, Virginia’s Mamadi Diakite sank a tough turnaround jump hook plus the foul. He made the free throw to put UVa. up 60-57. Anthony responded with a contested layup to cut it to 60-59 with 25.9 seconds left, and Clark made one of two free throws on the following foul.
With 10.3 seconds left, and UNC desperate for a bucket, Keeling was fouled on a 3-pointer and made all three free throws. On Virginia’s final possession, Clark drove baseline and found Woldetensae on the left wing. He pump faked a defender, stepped to his right and sank the game-winner.
Who stood out?
For Virginia, Woldetensae was the hero. He finished with 18 points on 6-10 shooting from deep.
Brooks, who wore Rec Specs Saturday as he recovers from an eye injury, had a team-high 20 points on 9-14 shooting for UNC. Anthony had 17 points and five assists; Keeling also contributed 11, including the clutch free throws.
Clark, who assisted the game-winner, finished with 10 points and nine assists for the Cavaliers.
When was it decided?
UNC found itself in yet another game down to the wire. This one wasn't decided until Woldetensae's 3-pointer on Virginia's final possession.
Why does it matter?
After a blowout loss to Wake Forest earlier this week, UNC showed some tangible fight in the first half Saturday.
But that took a backseat to this absurd stat: North Carolina's last four home losses have been by a combined eight points.
When do they play next?
North Carolina will play Notre Dame on the road Monday night at 7 p.m. The Fighting Irish are 15-10 and 6-8 in the ACC after a blowout loss Saturday at Duke.
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