It seemed as though North Carolina (11-4) had finally taken control of a game littered with 10 ties and 11 lead changes in the final 10 minutes of regulation, using a 12-3 spurt to build a 72-61 lead with 4:02 to play. But the Cougars (8-6) outscored the Tar Heels 12-1 to force overtime, capped by Goudelock’s 3-pointer – and eighth-straight point – with 2.1 seconds left to play.
The College of Charleston took an early 76-73 lead in overtime on a Donavan Monroe 3-pointer and UNC would never be able to get back on top. The Cougars built an 80-74 margin with 1:28 to play before the Tar Heels cut it to 80-79 on a Larry Drew 3-pointer with 1:01 left.
A designed play to Drew with 1.1 seconds remaining on the clock was ultimately stolen by Monroe to preserve the upset.
Ed Davis scored 19 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, while Deon Thompson added 17 points and seven rebounds for UNC. Goudelock led all scorers with 24 points and all of Cougars’ starters scored 13 or more points in a balanced effort.
North Carolina outrebounded the College of Charleston, 56-36, and shot 34 free throws to C of C’s six. But the Tar Heels only managed to shoot 38.0 percent from the field (27-of-71) compared to the Cougars’ 43.4 percent (33-of-76).
INSIDE THE GAME
Finishing the Scouting Report
The frontcourt scouting report on the College of Charleston appeared to provide an ideal matchup. The Cougars’ three-guard lineup left only two 6-foot-8 post players in the starting lineup – junior Jeremy Simmons and senior Casaan Breeden. Six-foot-six reserve Willis Hall soaked up the bench minutes (19.9) in the paint.
An additional problem for Bobby Cremins was the fact that Breeden had only been averaging 21.7 minutes per contest due to a propensity for ill-advised rough-housing, committing 3.8 fouls per game.
“We always want to get the ball into the post and just play aggressive,” Davis said. “That comes with the other teams’ big men being in foul trouble. That’s what happened tonight.”
Simmons and Breeden both had three fouls on their stat line with 17:15 to play in regulation and then by the 10-minute mark, both had picked up their fourth. Seldom-used true freshman forward Rashad Wright was forced to play in clutch time due to the foul trouble.
But what seemed like a fool-proof play would never pan out. Breeden would eventually foul out in overtime, but the Tar Heels ultimately went away from that strategy down the stretch.
“We thought we could get them in foul trouble and we did, but we never got it finished,” Williams said. “Breeden fouled out, but he and Simmons I think both had four fouls fairly early in the second half, or at least for six or seven minutes, and we never got it back inside.”
Lackluster Guard Play
There’s no question that North Carolina lacked necessary components on the perimeter with Marcus Ginyard and Will Graves sidelined with right ankle injuries, but those two individuals have rarely been relied on to consistently create their own shots or to set up their teammates.
The remaining Tar Heel ingredients at the guard spots – Larry Drew, Dexter Strickland, Leslie McDonald and Justin Watts – struggled mightily through the first 34 minutes of action on Monday, both in converting scoring opportunities and in efficiently running Roy Williams’ up-tempo offense.
In the first half, North Carolina shot just 36.8 percent (14-of-38) from the floor with the four players in question missing 13 of their 17 field goal attempts. The Heels were only able to force five turnovers, which resulted in six points off those miscues. And while UNC’s backcourt took good care of the ball (six turnovers), but only managed six assists in a grueling offensive first-half display.
To make matters worse, that Tar Heel quartet combined to miss their first 10 field goal attempts in the second half.
But the real problems emerged during crunch time. After Strickland and McDonald combined for eight straight points late in the second half to give North Carolina a 70-61 lead, the Tar Heels eventually failed to score on four of its final five possessions when successful penetration could have essentially secured the win.
And after struggling with that penetration all game long, the College of Charleston allowed Strickland to slice through the middle of the lane with 16 seconds left in overtime and UNC trailing 82-79.
“We’re down three and we take it to the basket and try to shot a lay-up, and that’s not smart, either,” Williams said.
Drew indicated that the team doesn’t work on late-game situations very often, leading to the guards having to communicate with the coaching staff on the sidelines as the game clock wore down.
“We’ve just got make shots and make stops,” said Drew, who scored nine points and handed out three assists. “[We’ve] got to manage the game better – that’s on me.”
Give credit to the Cougars’ Andrew Goudelock for stepping up and making plays when his team needed them the most. The Tar Heels are still waiting for a guard of their own to do enough down the stretch to instill that same level of confidence.
Where’s the Problem?
The morgue-like atmosphere draping the Tar Heels’ locker room was not consistent with that of a typical loss. Sure, dealing with defeat is difficult and emotions often range from anger to exasperation. But the mood in UNC’s cubby hole beneath Carolina First Arena was eerily somber.
Silence encompassed the small room as media members waited for starters while the other players quietly packed their belongings in preparation for the long trip back to Chapel Hill. Deon Thompson quickly dressed and left before any reporters could ask his thoughts on the loss.
With questions surrounding his players’ play, Williams took an inquiry about his satisfaction level with the team’s current leadership and pointed it squarely at himself during his postgame press conference.
“Not from the head coach, because I’ve got to coach them better,” Williams said. “They’ve got to understand that you’re three points down and [you’ve] got five fouls. We’re screaming and yelling and doing everything, but we didn’t get it done, so we’re not getting the correct coaching.”
The ballyhooed team meeting on New Year’s Eve occurred as expected, but there was no dramatic change evident on Monday.
“Yeah, we talked,” Drew said. “We always talk. It’s something with this team that we’ve just got to stop talking at a point and we’ve got to start walking the talk now. That’s all it is for me. I feel like I’ve heard everything – from the players, from the coaches. It’s getting to a point where we’ve just got to start doing what we say we’re going to do.”
As far as Drew is concerned, it all comes down to one simple thing – execution.
“Coach Williams can tell us what to do all he wants, but we’ve just got to start doing it, you know?”