J.P. Tokoto added 11 points and six rebounds for North
Carolina (23-7, 13-4 ACC), which owns a 12-game conference
winning streak for the first time since the 1986-87 campaign.
Notre Dame attempted to force overtime, but Paige swatted aside
a driving shot by Eric Atkins in the final seconds and Tom
Knight’s ensuing basket came after the buzzer.
Atkins had 21 points and six assists for the Fighting Irish
(15-16, 6-12). Pat Connaughton played on a twisted ankle and
contributed 17 points and a season-high 13 rebounds as Notre
Dame lost for the fourth time in five games.
Steve Vasturia’s layup gave the Fighting Irish a 56-54 lead with
four minutes to play before North Carolina erupted with seven
straight points for a five-point edge with 1:26 remaining. A
three-point play by Connaughton got Notre Dame back within 61-59
with 52.1 seconds left and North Carolina’s lead was again at
two after Paige hit one of two free throws with 6.6 seconds
Notre Dame trailed 41-27 at halftime before opening the second
half with a 22-5 charge, taking a three-point lead on a basket
by Zach Auguste with 13:12 to play. The Fighting Irish went the
next seven minutes without scoring but North Carolina scored
only four points during the stretch before Vasturia hit one of
two free throws to tie it at 50 with 6:12 to go.
GAME NOTEBOOK: The winning streak is the longest for the Tar
Heels since they won 13 straight during the 2008-09 season. …
Fighting Irish C Garrick Sherman sat out with a dislocated
finger. … Both teams struggled from the free-throw line – North
Carolina was 10-of-22 and Notre Dame finished 5-of-12.
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