Newton's Buzzer Beater Stuns No. 9 Tar Heels

Newton's Buzzer Beater Stuns No. 9 Tar Heels

Aaron Brecheisen
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Miami (21-8, 10-7 ACC) upsets No. 9 North Carolina (22-8, 11-6 ACC), 91-88, at the Smith Center on Monday. Senior guard Ja’Quan Newton scored the final nine points for the Hurricanes, including a 30-foot buzzer beating three-point shot from half court to give the Canes its third consecutive victory.

It was Senior Night at the Smith Center on Monday, but it was Miami’s senior guard Ja’Quan Newton celebrating at the end of the game. Just two days after freshman Lonnie Walker IV hit a game-winning three at home against Boston College, the Hurricanes came up clutch once again -- this time on the road, in a hostile environment. After UNC’s Joel Berry II, who seemingly made every shot he took in the second half, made a three-point shot of his own to tie the game with 4.1 seconds remaining on the clock, Newton, a 17 percent 3-point shooter on the season, called for the quick inbounds pass from Anthony Lawrence II.

“When I was guarding Joel [Berry], he came down and hit a great shot,” Newton said. “Soon as he hit the shot, I came around and wanted the ball. … I got it. I looked at the clock when I was dribbling up court and it said 3-seconds left. I was just like: ‘I’ve got to shoot it.’”

With the Tar Heels defense in retreat, Newton dribbled just over half court before heaving a three, on the run, at the buzzer, over Berry, hitting nothing but net. The home Carolina crowd went silent as the Canes bench ran onto the court for the celebratory dog pile.

“This is one thing I always dreamed about… For me to actually do it, right now in this moment, out there against North Carolina, it’s something I’ll remember forever.”

Miami head coach Jim Larranaga said he considered calling a timeout before the Hurricanes inbounded the ball. And as Larranaga gave his postgame comments, Newton stared at a nearby wall-mounted TV replaying his remarkable shot.

In a game where Miami never trailed from the 8-minute mark in the first half, the Canes needed clutch baskets throughout the game to edge out the win against the defending National Champions. It was a team effort with the Hurricanes having six players scoring in double-digits for just the second time this season. Freshman guard Chris Lykes led the way with 18 points, followed by Newton (15), Dewan Huell (14), Walker IV (13), Ebuka Izundu (12) and DJ Vasiljevic (10).

Lykes was brought back into the starting lineup for Izundu to help compete with UNC’s smaller lineup. The Tar Heels got off to a quick start, hitting 8 of their first 14 shots, but Miami was able to stay within striking range with a couple 3-point shots of their own. North Carolina led 18-10 early, before the Canes went on an 18-3 run to take the lead thanks to 12 straight points from Izundu. The junior center was tremendous on ball screens, rolling to the basket, and grabbing offensive rebounds during that stretch which really helped Miami take a 44-36 lead into halftime.

To start the second half, Miami forced three straight turnovers and scored on its first seven possessions. Despite squandering a 16-point lead, the Hurricanes never trailed and hit all 10 of its free throws in the second half.

North Carolina entered the game on a six-game winning streak and only two home losses. Berry matched his career-high with 31 points while senior Theo Pinson had 12 points and 11 assists for the Tar Heels in their final home game of the season.

Larranaga is now 6-5 in his Miami career against North Carolina. This is Miami’s first win on the road against a top-10 team since a 90-74 victory at then-No. 4 Duke on Jan. 13, 2015.

Next up, Miami returns home Saturday (March 3) to battle Virginia Tech in a noon contest that serves as the regular-season finale. Prior to the game, Miami will conduct Senior Day ceremonies.

P.S. After tonights win, it is time to go shopping for a new suit or dress, and some shoes... because WE ARE GOING TO THE BIG DANCE!!

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