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UNC edges Notre Dame for first ACC road win

North Carolina coach Roy Williams following win over Notre Dame: “My frustration button is at a very high level right now”

UNC coach Roy Williams discusses his frustrations after the Tar Heels narrowly defeated Notre Dame on the road.
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UNC coach Roy Williams discusses his frustrations after the Tar Heels narrowly defeated Notre Dame on the road.

Luke Maye thought T.J. Gibbs’ first potential game-winning shot was going in.

Roy Williams couldn’t believe Gibbs got another chance to give short-handed Notre Dame a win over No. 20 North Carolina on Saturday night.

Gibbs couldn’t get either to fall in the final frenetic seconds and No. 20 North Carolina held on for a 69-68 road win over Notre Dame.

Maye, who led UNC (14-4, 3-2 ACC) with 18 points and 11 rebounds, said the Tar Heels were flat-out lucky to pick up their first ACC road win of the season.

Williams was flat-out frustrated by his team’s win, a fourth straight in what has become a fascinating conference series with the Fighting Irish (13-5, 3-2).

“I’m so befuddled right now,” Williams said. “I’m dumbfounded we won the game. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that at the end.

“I’m at a loss for words. That’s something, my wife will tell you, that’s never happened in 67 years.”

Here’s what happened:

After Joel Berry sunk a pair of free throws with 7.1 seconds lift to give UNC the 69-68 lead, Gibbs was able to take the ball the length of the floor.

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North Carolina’s Joel Berry II (2) shoots the game winning shot, a free throw with seven seconds to play, to give the Tar Heels’ a 69-68 victory over Notre Dame on Saturday, January 13, 2018 at the Joyce Center in South Bend, Indiana. Robert Willett rwillett@newsobserver.com

Berry was guarding Gibbs and then Maye came over near the 3-point line to double Gibbs. Berry and Maye forced Gibbs to take a difficult, acrobatic shot.

Somehow Gibbs got the ball to the rim.

“It looked going up,” Maye said. “Luckily it hit back rim.”

But Gibbs wasn’t done.

“Then it went right back to him and I was like, ‘Oh, no,” Maye said.

Gibbs got his own rebound and a second look at the win. He banked the follow-up off the glass, it hit the front rim and then the back of it before rolling out.

“I feel the luckiest maybe I’ve ever felt in my life at the end of a basketball game,” Williams said.

It was that kind of game for UNC, which was out-rebounded (45-37) for only the second time this season and was out-scored 30-18 at the 3-point line.

Without star forward Bonzie Colson, out with a foot injury, or senior point guard Matt Farrell, out with an ankle injury, the Irish got 19 points from Gibbs and 12 from sophomore guard Nikola Djogo.

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Norte Dames Martinas Geben (23) battles for a rebound with North Carolina's Kenny Williams (24) and Garrison Brooks (15). Robert Willett rwillett@newsobserver.com

Gibbs has been the main player to step up for Mike Brey’s team since Colson went out after their ACC opener on Dec. 30. But Djogo had only eight points in the first four ACC games.

Djogo buried a pair of 3-pointers to give Notre Dame a 66-60, the last with 5:58 left. Then UNC’s defense kicked in.

The Irish didn’t score a field goal the rest of the game. Maye and Berry led a 9-2 finish for the Heels, who didn’t exactly feel like celebrating.

“My frustration button is at a very high level right now,” Williams said. “The tape session is going to be a lot of fun, that’s all I can say guys.”

Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio

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