Miami upsets No. 6 North Carolina, 83-80
With all the great freshmen on the court for No. 6 North Carolina — three different Tar Heels have won the ACC rookie of the week award a combined six times — it was a Miami freshman who stole the show Sunday.
Adrienne Motley scored a career-high 27 points on 10 of 14 shooting, including a go-ahead basket with 1:58 remaining that sparked a 9-0 run, as Miami beat UNC 83-80 at Carmichael Arena.
UNC’s 1994 NCAA championship team was honored at halftime to mark the 20th anniversary of the program’s lone NCAA title. The current Tar Heels sport the nation’s top freshman class, bringing hope for another long tournament run, but this past week showed they still has a ways to go before the program can celebrate another national title.
After achieving its highest ranking in four seasons, UNC (17-5, 5-3 ACC) has now lost back-to-back games for the first time. The Tar Heels blew an 18-point second-half lead against Syracuse on Thursday at Carmichael and lost by five.
UNC tied it three times in the final four minutes Sunday, and each time Motley hit a jumper on Miami’s next possession.
“I just kept calling for her to keep the ball in her hands and we didn’t even want to pass any more – they were stealing so many of our passes – so she didn’t even pass,” Hurricanes coach Katie Meier said. “It was just dribble out, dribble out, gave her a couple ball screens and told her to pull it.
“I thought it was a very composed, wonderful performance by a very talented young lady who needs to be on the all-rookie team in this conference.”
After Motley’s final jumper put Miami up 73-71, Danielle Butts, Diamond DeShields and Jessica Washington all came up empty handed on the Tar Heels’ next three possessions, allowing Miami to clinch the game at the free-throw line. The Hurricanes made 8 of 10 in the final 45 seconds left, and were able to get the offensive rebound on both misses.
DeShields banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make the final margin closer. The reigning ACC freshman of the week finished with 18 points but on 8 of 24 shooting. Xylina McDaniel also had 18 points, while Butts had 13 points and six rebounds off the bench.
UNC led the ACC in field-goal percentage defense (33.8) but Miami shot 57.1 percent Sunday to overcome 21 turnovers. The Tar Heels shot 37.0 percent from the field and 51.6 percent (16 of 31) from the line.
“We just have to do a better job defensively,” acting coach Andrew Calder said. “It just all starts with defense. If we made our foul shots it would have been different too, but nobody went up there and missed them on purpose. We’ll continue to work on them.”
Miami hit 16 of its first 23 shots from the field (69.6 percent) and led 38-19 after 13 minutes. But the Tar Heels scored the final 10 points of the first half, and then started the second half with a 9-1 run to take the lead.
The margin was close from there until Miami’s 9-0 run put it up 80-71 with 33 seconds left.
Marion Jones, Sylvia Crawley and Tonya Sampson were among the Tar Heels from the 1994 team who were honored at halftime (Charlotte Smith, who hit the winning shot in the title game, had to miss the festivities because of a death in her family).
After speaking to the crowd Saturday at halftime of the UNC men’s game, Sylvia Hatchell joined her 1994 team for a halftime ceremony on Sunday and watched the game from a private area above the court.
“It was really nice to see Coach Hatchell up in the stands,” Meier said. “She means so much to me, she means so much to our conference, she means so much to the game. That was worth the trip alone, just to see her in person.”
After being diagnosed with leukemia in October, Hatchell is now cancer-free and hopes to resume on-court coaching duties before the end of the season.