Tar Heels squeak past Irish in final seconds

Notre Dame's Temple 'T.J.' Gibbs Jr. (10) reacts to missing the final shot against North Carolina during an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, in South Bend, Ind. (Michael Caterina/South Bend Tribune via AP)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) – Joel Berry II hit two free throws with 7.1 seconds left as No. 20 North Carolina earned its first Atlantic Coast Conference road victory of the season Saturday with a 69-68 triumph over Notre Dame.

Berry finished with 15 points while Luke Maye had a double-double – 17 points and 11 rebounds – and Theo Pinson added 13 for the Tar Heels (14-4, 3-2). Sophomore point guard T.J. Gibbs got a game-high 19 points and six assists for the Irish (13-5, 3-2).

Gibbs dribbled downcourt and got off an errant shot but got a rebound which spun out at the buzzer. Senior center Martinas Geben hit his first career 3-pointer while scoring 14 for Notre Dame and reserve

Nikola Djogo had a career-high 12 points as Notre Dame stayed close by hitting 10 of 24 (41.7 percent) from beyond the arc.

The Tar Heels led 40-37 after a competitive first half during which both teams endured long stretches without field goals. The lead changed hands 14 times.

Maye came up one rebound short of a double-double with 13 points and 9 rebounds, while Berry had nine points, all from beyond the arc, but drew his third personal in the final 2 minutes.

Gibbs, who missed his first four shots, finally got on the board with 7:44 left after the Irish endured a 6:54 stretch without a field goal. He finished with nine points.

Geben scored four points, had two offensive boards and took a charge as Notre Dame started the second half on an 11-7 run for a 48-47 lead with 14:40 to play.

After five straight points by Pinson gave the Tar Heels a 56-50 lead with 9:48 to play, Notre Dame called a timeout. A 10-4 spurt highlighted by two 3-pointers by Gibbs after his backhanded missed field goal was hammered home by Rex Pflueger and made it 60-60 with 6:53 left.

Djogo then hit two 3-pointers to put the Irish up 66-60 with 5:58 remaining. But the Tar Heels closed with a 9-2 run as the Irish missed their final nine shots from the field.

BIG PICTURE

North Carolina: The Tar Heels, who lost games at Florida State and Virginia earlier this month, got their first ACC road victory and avoided three straight ACC road losses for the first time since 2014. North Carolina has had winning road records in 11 of its 14 seasons under coach Roy Williams, who got the 830th victory of his career to tie him with Mount St. Mary’s Jim Phelan on the all-time list.

Notre Dame: Matt Farrell, who has missed the last 2 1/2 games with a sprained ankle, dressed and led Notre Dame out of tunnel for pre-game warmups but sat on the bench with fellow senior Bonzie Colson (broken left foot, eight weeks) as Brey used eight players, with five of them finishing in double digits in minutes in the first 20 minutes.

UP NEXT

North Carolina: Hosts No. 19 Clemson on Tuesday.

Notre Dame: Hosts Louisville on Tuesday.

 

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