Berry II’s floater helps No. 13 North Carolina edge Wake Forest
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The fans left the Smith Center elated following No. 13 North Carolina’s narrow 73-69 victory against Wake Forest on Saturday afternoon.
Tar Heels coach Roy Williams wasn’t so thrilled even though his team scored the last eight points of the game.
“Happy to win,” Williams said. “Not pleased at all, not satisfied at all. ... By golly, we’ve got to play harder and play better.”
Joel Berry II’s floater with 10.3 seconds remaining broke a tie and rescued North Carolina in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams.
Keyshawn Woods missed a 3-point attempt for Wake Forest before Kenny Williams made two free throws to seal the outcome.
Woods’ prospective go-ahead shot had potential.
“I wanted anybody to be aggressive,” Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said of the key possession. “I thought it was on line from where I was at and then it kind of drifted to the left.”
Luke Maye’s 17 points and 15 rebounds and Berry’s 16 points paced North Carolina (12-2), while Williams had 13 points and Cameron Johnson added 11 points.
The Tar Heels overcame some shoddy shooting stretches as they embarked on an effort to repeat as ACC regular-season champions.
Berry’s winning basket put him at 7-for-17 for the game. He had to loft it over defenders.
“Higher than usual,” Berry said of the arc of shot. “But it went in.”
Bryant Crawford scored 17 points and Woods had 12 for Wake Forest (7-6).
North Carolina used Theo Pinson’s two free throws with 51.4 seconds left to tie the game. Wake Forest’s Doral Moore missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 34.1 seconds left before Berry’s shot.
It didn’t appear that it would be so dramatic earlier for the Tar Heels. Johnson made two 3-pointers in the opening five minutes of the second half.
Crawford missed a dunk midway through the second half that would have pulled the Demon Deacons within three points. Instead, North Carolina rattled off the next four points for a 60-51 lead.
Williams’ steal and dunk ignited the North Carolina crowd, but Terrence Thompson and Woods answered with 3s, the first of those causing Coach Williams to slam the scorer’s table in disgust.
Crawford’s 3 on the next possession tied the game at 62.
Woods’ jumper in transition gave Wake Forest a 66-65 edge.
Wake Forest had a season-low seven turnovers.
“Obviously, we didn’t do enough to come out with the desired outcome that we wanted,” Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said. “There’s some categories on the stat sheet we have to get better at. Rebounding is one of them. They were able to get 16 second-half points to our zero.”
North Carolina led 35-30 at halftime despite shooting 36.8 percent from the field.
Wake Forest held a 27-24 lead with less than 2 1/2 minutes to go in the half before the Tar Heels rattled off the next seven points.
Then came Pinson’s acrobatic putback at the 23.1-second mark providing the final points of the half. North Carolina scored the first five points of the second half despite Pinson departing briefly with an apparent injury.
Maye left the game briefly in the first half with a cut on his cheek.
Moore, a center who leads the country in field-goal percentage, played only six first-half minutes because he picked up two fouls. He finished with four points on 2-for-5 shooting from the field with eight rebounds.
NOTES: This was the only scheduled meeting between the in-state teams this season. ... This was the 12th season in a row that North Carolina entered ACC play with at least 10 nonconference victories. ... Wake Forest has lost 19 consecutive road games against ranked opponents since winning in Chapel Hill against the Tar Heels on Jan. 20, 2010. ... The Demon Deacons won their first two true road games this season, winning at Charlotte and Coastal Carolina. ... North Carolina was playing its first home game since the stunning Dec. 20 loss to Wofford. ... North Carolina goes to Florida State on Wednesday night. ... Wake Forest plays its ACC home opener Wednesday night against Syracuse.