The Tar Heels of North Carolina were shut down offensively, unable to string together enough possessions to keep the Pittsburgh Panthers at bay. Pitt’s Jamalius Barton unleashed his throw to win the game with his 3.4 seconds remaining, completing his sweep of the season for the heels on his team. Won 65-64. It was the Heels’ first loss at home of the season.
The game was brickfest early on, with both teams stringing together several field goals, including early 3-pointers from Caleb Love and Pete Nance after starting 1/5 from the field. Those triples helped UNC open up a 9-5 lead, and when UNC’s cold streak matched Nellie Cummings in the pits to heat up, the margin was slashed until there were about eight minutes left in the game. Not much changed, with the team finishing on a 10-0 run to take their first lead of the game with about five minutes remaining.
Both teams were battling for a small lead in the remaining half, with the teams going to the locker room, one pit, 34-33. Love and Nance, who opened the scoring for the Heels, were the majority of the offense early on with 13 and 9 points respectively. The bigger story is Armando Bako, who was frustrated with double-teaming in the pits, and just six points on a 1/5 shot from the field. had just 3 points on 1/7 shooting from the field. Cummings, on the other hand, was the engine in the pits and from the floor he was 5/6 and he scored 12 points.
The second half started much like the first half, with both teams struggling to shoot. Heels tried harder to get Baccott to get the ball, but he had two shots blocked before picking up the bucket in transition. A high tide was reached and Leaky Black scored his third and fourth fouls in quick succession and was relegated to the bench.
The heel temporarily used that energy to do a mini-run on the lead, also going up 6. But it was a game of runs, and Cummings is back with a behemoth of his own. He hit three consecutive triples to turn a six-point deficit into a three-point lead that he soon had a seven-point lead. He checked up there and he started taking the reins on the scoring. From there, the Heels tried to take the lead, and finally, a triple from Bako, -1 and Caleb Love – UNC made the first triple of the half – led the game to a four-under timeout.
Cummings collected and fouled out two fouls in 15 seconds in the fourth and fifth, and looked to show good for the Heels in a tight game. He had another opportunity to tie from the line, but was only able to hit one free throw. On the next possession, Baccott had another chance to draw or take the lead, hitting both and giving the team a one-point lead and him with 45 seconds to play the ball. Unfortunately, he turned the ball over trying to get out of another double team on UNC’s next possession and Pitt had a chance to regain the lead with 23 seconds remaining. I pulled back and hit both free throws to sink my heels.
Love was the only true bright spot in UNC’s offense, scoring 22 points (3 to 4/11) and adding 6 rebounds on 8/18. Nance scored 13 on his 6/14, Bako played mostly at the free-throw line, 15 and he added 11 rebounds.
The Heels need to regroup and sharpen ahead of Saturday’s rivalry showdown in Durham.