Last-minute loss dims ACC hopes

Just like that, another team stole the heart of the Miami Hurricanes in the final seconds.

For the third straight game, the Hurricanes once again suffered another heartbreaker as freshman forward Harrison Barnes broke the Canes’ spirit with a shot clock-expiring 3-pointer as North Carolina won, 74-71, at the BankUnited Center.

Miami had a chance on the final possession, but redshirt junior guard Malcolm Grant was unable to hit a deep 3-pointer as time expired.

Five players finished with double digits for the Hurricanes (12-8,1-5), but it wasn’t enough to top the Tar Heels (14-5, 4-1). Sophomore guard Durand Scott led the Hurricanes with 18 points and hit a career-high four 3-pointers.

“In 25 years I have never had this in three straight games coming down to final possession,” head coach Frank Haith said. “It’s tough. Tough plays. Tough breaks.”

Now the Hurricanes are four games down and couldn’t find themselves in a deeper hole.

The Canes will hit the road to Blacksburg, Va. to play Virginia Tech on Monday and still have five remaining away games. The Hurricanes will have to put together a decent winning streak to get back in the middle of the ACC standings.

“We had a chance to win the game,” Haith said. “We’ve got to get a break.”

Miami had to fight the battle in the paint. North Carolina, the No. 1 team in the nation in rebounds with 43 per game, was in a dogfight with the Hurricanes, who were unphased by the height of the Tar Heels. The Canes held UNC to 34 total rebounds while also converting 13 for 28 from the 3-point line.

North Carolina just executed down the stretch with Barnes hitting the last two baskets for the Tar Heels. Miami didn’t convert on a field goal for the final 4:14 of the game.

“I feel for Frank,” said UNC head coach Roy Williams, a two-time national champion. “We feel real fortunate. Feel as lucky as we possibly be. It was a big shot for Harrison. They were a difficult match-up for us. You have to give Miami credit.”

The Tar Heels went up 69-67 when junior center Tyler Zeller hit a hook shot after returning to the floor from sitting out with four fouls. Scott hit a pair of free throws and Grant gave UM the lead with another pair before Barnes made the final baskets.

In the past, Scott has always tried to prove a point against North Carolina. Last year at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill, Scott went to work against the Tar Heels as he had a career-high 29 points on 11 for 15 from the floor.

Redshirt sophomore forward Reggie Johnson finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds and bodied Zeller most of the game in the paint. Grant had 17 points and redshirt senior Adrian Thomas added 12 points.

Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at