March 11, 2016
WASHINGTON (AP) The ACC Tournament semifinal between No. 7 North Carolina and defending champion Notre Dame was tight and tense early, with the teams separated by only a single point with about 6 minutes to go before halftime.
Then everything changed.
Suddenly, Notre Dame simply could not score – or, better, North Carolina wouldn’t let it. And the Tar Heels couldn’t miss. They just kept pouring it on, scoring outside and inside, from consecutive 3-pointers by Marcus Paige to a steal and end-to-end drive for a layup by Theo Pinson.
With a back-to-himself Paige leading the way, North Carolina scored 24 consecutive points – yes, 24! – over a 9 1/2-minute span bridging halftime and easily beat Notre Dame 78-47 on Friday night for a spot in the title game.
”We could make our travel plans at halftime,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. ”Let me put it that way.”
It was relentless and riveting, and it put UNC (27-6) in its 34th league final and fifth in the past six years. But the Tar Heels have gone 0-4 in that span, including a loss to the Fighting Irish a year ago.
Bonzie Colson led Notre Dame (21-11) with 15 points, while Zach Auguste had six points and 10 rebounds after getting 19 and 22 in a quarterfinal victory over Duke.
With more size up front, North Carolina was able to seize control under the basket. By halftime, the Tar Heels held edges of 21-12 in total rebounds and 18-4 on points in the paint.
And their D?
”They were fabulous. Their defense was a different level than what we’ve seen or played against,” Brey said. ”We really had nowhere to go.”
Notre Dame: NCAA Tournament.