Local News

Miami 64, North Carolina 61, OT

Posted January 4, 2003 9:44 a.m. EST

— The North Carolina Tar Heels shot as if the baskets at the University of Miami's new arena were 20 feet high.

North Carolina went the final 12:10 without a field goal and missed all eight shots in overtime as the Hurricanes opened their on-campus Convocation Center by winning 64-61 Saturday night.

``We may have taken some bad shots and rushed a few,'' said North Carolina's Jawad Williams, who went 3-for-17.

Darius Rice hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 2.5 seconds left to force overtime, then scored the only basket in the extra period.

North Carolina coach Matt Doherty was angry that no foul was called when Williams missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer as time ran out. A TV replay showed that Miami's Paulo Coelho appeared to hit Williams on the forearm as he shot.

Doherty screamed at the officials as they left the floor. ``I believe Jawad got hit,'' Doherty said. ``It seemed obvious. But they're a good officiating crew. It's human error. It's part of the game. The people in Miami can understand that better than anybody after last night's football game.''

A disputed interference call against the Hurricanes in overtime proved pivotal Friday night in their 31-24 loss to Ohio State at the Fiesta Bowl.

Williams said he was fouled on two shots he missed in the final seconds. ``It's all right, because we're all human,'' Williams said. ``I'm not worried about it. It's a game. Things happen. I'm not going to make every shot. They're not going to make every call.'' Joked Miami's Rice: ``Home court.''

The game drew 6,826 fans in the $48 million Convocation Center, which has 7,000 permanent seats. The Hurricanes averaged 4,651 fans last season at Miami Arena, their home in downtown Miami since 1988. ``Going down the stretch, just about every fan was on their feet,'' Miami's James Jones said. ``It was exciting. This is a great experience for me and every guy on the team.''

Jones scored the first basket in the new arena and finished with 21 points for the Hurricanes (7-4). They rallied from a 58-48 deficit over the final seven minutes of regulation.

Rice, who had 17 points, scored on a follow to put the Hurricanes ahead 62-61 with 2:21 left in overtime _ their first lead since 41-40 early in the second half.

Rashad McCants had 14 points for the Tar Heels (8-4), who have lost four of seven after a 5-0 start. They shot just 31 percent and missed their final 13 tries.

Raymond Felton had 12 points and Jackie Manuel added 11 for the Tar Heels. They trailed 41-34 when their 18-point run began.

Stymied by North Carolina's zone defense, the Hurricanes went 7 1/2 minutes without a point and failed to score on 11 consecutive possessions. They committed four turnovers during the drought and missed nine consecutive shots, including a blown dunk by James.

Consecutive 3-pointers by Melvin Scott and David Noel put the Tar Heels ahead 58-47, but those were their last field goals. ``I had no doubt we were going to win the game,'' Rice said. ``I came here to make big shots, and that's what I did.''

The crowd included Texas Rangers shortstop Alex Rodriguez, a Miami native, and Hurricanes football coach Larry Coker, whose team lost Friday night to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.

``We didn't come home with what we hoped to come home with, and that's the national championship,'' Coker told the crowd when introduced at halftime. ``Are we disappointed? Yes. Are we hurt? Yes. But let me assure you, it's not over for this university. We'll be back.''