Forty minutes of basketball all boiled down a single heartbeat.
The final 0.6 seconds of the night were what ultimately defined the game for North Carolina. Trailing to Pittsburgh by one point in the final possession, the Tar Heels had no choice but to make the short time count.
Off the inbound, the ball immediately found its way into Caleb Love's hands — just as it was drawn up. The junior guard stepped back, lined up a jumper, and let it fly.
But when the buzzer sounded a split-second later, UNC hadn't clinched the win. Instead, the ball had been swatted out of the air by Pittsburgh guard Nike Sibande, not making it more than a foot past Love’s fingertips. Despite trailing for the majority of the second half, the Tar Heels fell to Pitt once again, 65-64.
“.6 is enough to shoot your regular shot,” head coach Hubert Davis said. “It just didn’t go in.”
In reality, though, the moments leading up to that final play had just as much of an impact on the game.
After a missed jumper by Pittsburgh forward Blake Hinson with 49 seconds remaining, it seemed like the Tar Heels had the upper hand. But then, a UNC turnover and a foul called on junior guard RJ Davis gave the Panthers the opportunity to push ahead.
With two sunk free throws from guard Jamarius Burton, they did just that.
“At the end of the day we had a 1-point lead with the ball,” Hubert Davis said. “On two straight possessions, we turned the ball over, didn't get a shot and then we fouled them and put them on the free throw line … In a crucial moment where the only thing that you need to do was get a score or a stop, or both, we got neither. And that's the frustrating part.”