CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Ja’Quan Newton made a sprinting 30-footer as time expired and Miami stunned No. 9 North Carolina 91-88 in a thrilling finish on a senior night at Smith Center on Tuesday night.
North Carolina’s Joel Berry II hit a 3-pointer with 4.1 seconds left to knot the game at 88-88, as the Tar Heels managed to rally from a double-digit second-half deficit.
With the game well set for overtime, Newton collected the inbound pass in stride from Anthony Lawrence II before advancing into North Carolina’s half of the court and then launched a long-range shot off his left foot over Berry II to stunned the hometown fans.
“I’ve made a buzzer-beater before but not at this type of level,” Newton, who also made 4 of 4 free throws in the final 25 seconds, said after the game. “This is one thing I’ve always dreamed about.
“… For me to actually do it right now at this moment, out there against North Carolina, that’s something I will remember forever.”
Berry II thought he had forced overtime with his banged in shot, but Newton and the travelers had other ideas.
“When I was guarding Joel, he came down and hit a great shot,” Newton said. “Soon as he hit the shot, I came around and I wanted the ball. … I got it.
“I looked at the clock when I was dribbling upcourt and it said 3 seconds left.
“I was just like: `I’ve got to shoot it.”
Meanwhile, Miami coach Jim Larranaga said he contemplated taking a timeout before the ball was inbounded but saw the perfect opening for his team to hit the Tar Heels on the counter.
He revealed: “I saw Ja’Quan go on the run, which I felt like that was our best chance before they set their defense.
“Anthony Lawrence is a very good inbounder and he got it to Jaquan in rhythm, in stride, so he had a lot of speed going forward.”
Chris Lykes scored 18 points to lead the Hurricanes (21-8, 10-7 Atlantic Coast Conference), while Newton added 15 in the victory.
Dewan Huell finished with 14 points on 6 of 10 shooting with eight rebounds, while Lonnie Walker IV scored 13 points and Ebuka Izundu ended with 12 points and five rebounds for Miami, which led by as many as 16 points early in the second half.
Berry matched his career high with 31 points on 11 of 17 shooting with five 3-pointers, but missed a pair of key free throws leading up to the excitement.
Cameron Johnson added 20 points on 7 of 10 shooting, while Luke Maye added a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Tar Heels (22-8, 11-6), who had their six-game winning streak snapped.
Theo Pinson finished with 12 points and 11 assists for the defending champions who close out the regular season fixtures with a trip to arch-rival and No. 5 Duke on Saturday night.
North Carolina shot 54-percent from the floor and made 10 of its 13 shot from beyond the arc.
However, the home side was 13 of 20 from the free throw line.
Miami shot nearly 55-percent in the game and made 11-for-22 from 3-point range.
The Hurricanes play host to Virginia Tech on Saturday in its final regular-season fixture.