Joel Berry’s deep 3-pointer went in with 4.1 seconds left to erase what was once a 16-point Miami lead.
“I really thought we were going to win the game,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said.
Miami’s Ja’Quan Newton had other plans.
Newton’s long 3-pointer, from about 40 feet out, beat the buzzer and gave the Hurricanes a 91-88 win to spoil UNC’s “Senior Night.”
Newton’s shot was longer than Villanova’s Kris Jenkins from the 2016 national title game, and not quite as important, but it broke UNC’s heart nonetheless.
Berry, who equaled his career high with 31 points in his final home game, kept a good sense of humor after the loss for the ninth-ranked Tar Heels (22-8, 11-6 ACC).
“For some reason people love to hit game-winners like that on us,” Berry said.
Newton scored Miami’s final nine points and finished with 15 points. Six different Miami (21-8, 10-7 ACC) players finished in double-figures with freshman guard Chris Lykes leading the way with 18 points.
Berry wouldn’t let UNC give up. He scored 14 points in the final 4 minutes and didn’t come out of the game in the second half. Neither did Pinson, who finished with 12 points and 11 assists.
“This one was tough,” Pinson said. “I wanted this one really bad.”
So did Williams, who had won 12 of his first 14 “Senior Night” games at UNC and the two other losses were to Duke.
“Senior Night is always really big for me,” Williams said. “I want them to have a win on their last game on this floor.”
Miami made that impossible. The Canes led 44-36 at the half and then scored the first six points of the second half. UNC turned the ball over three straight times to start the second half, which prompted Williams to call a rare timeout.
The Canes’ surge continued. Miami led 59-43 after a Lykes steal and 3-pointer at 16:18 in the second half. The Heels scored the next eight points and 11 of the game’s next 13. Cam Johnson, who finished with 20 points, buried two 3s during the run.
Lykes’ layup with 4:51 left pushed Miami’s margin back to double digits, 78-68. Berry kept scraping and clawing. Berry’s 3 with 2:30 left cut Miami’s lead to 80-78.
UNC forward Luke Maye, who finished with 14 points, had a chance with 1:50 left to tie the game but missed a free throw and then made the next one. Newton kept scoring to keep Miami in front until Berry’s dramatic 3 from the top of the key tied the game at 88.
Miami coach Jim Larranaga didn’t call a timeout. Newton went and got the out-of-bounds pass and then dribbled to halfcourt. He took one long stride at the halfcourt line and then squared up from about 40 feet.
“He made a big-time shot,” Pinson said.
Technically, the loss didn’t matter in the ACC standings. UNC will still be the No. 2 seed in the ACC tournament with a win Saturday at Duke. But try and tell the emotionally-spent Tar Heels it didn’t matter after an all-too-familiar ending.
UNC coach Roy Williams addresses the Smith Center crowd and his senior players following their last home game on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 in Chapel Hill, N.C.