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Woldetensae the hero with game winner at North Carolina

Well, that was exciting.

NCAA Basketball: Virginia at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

In an exciting back-and-forth affair, the Virginia Cavaliers defeated the North Carolina Tar Heels 64-62 thanks to a game-winning three from Tomas Woldetensae. The third year junior college transfer finished with a team high 18 points on 6-for-10 shooting beyond the arc.

Virginia improved to 17-7 (9-5 ACC) with the win, and held on to fourth place in the conference standings. UNC fell to 10-15 (3-11 ACC). This is Virginia’s first two-game regular season sweep of the Heels since 2001-02, and moved the Hoos’ win streak against UNC to six.

Four players finished in double digits for the Hoos: Woldetensae, Mamadi Diakite (15 points), Kihei Clark (10 points), and Casey Morsell (10 points). All four of those players came up with big shots down the stretch as Diakite hit a big and-one shot late, Clark got to the line, and Morsell hit both threes he attempted in the game. Virginia outscored North Carolina 17-0 in bench points.

As a team, Virginia shot 44% from the field and 43% from three for the game. Additionally, they went 7-for-8 at the line, with the lone miss coming late.

North Carolina’s Garrison Brooks dropped 20 points on 9-for-14 shooting, and Cole Anthony added 17 points. The Tar Heels had one of their better shooting performances of the season, connecting on 50% from the field and 30% from three.

Virginia controlled the tip, and Diakite wasted no time giving the Cavaliers the lead with a silky jumper. The defense followed it with a shot clock violation, bringing the Virginia fans in attendance to their feet. A Cole Anthony three gave North Carolina the slim advantage, but Woldetensae answered with one of his own.

The Cavaliers built a 9-5 lead thanks to a fast break bucket from Diakite and a make at the rim from Huff. A mini four-point run from the Heels tied things at 9-9 before a touch shot off the glass from Caffaro gave the Hoos the lead. The two teams exchanged turnover breakaway plays to no avail, but Key pushed Virginia’s advantage to four with a transition bucket.

Anthony ended UNC’s 4:31 scoring drought with a jumper, cutting Virginia’s advantage to 13-11 with 7:27 to play in the first half. Two free throws from Diakite bumped the lead back to four, but Anthony converted an old fashioned three-point play to cut the Carolina deficit to one. UNC retook the lead with a Brooks jumper as Virginia went on its own 4+ minute scoring drought.

Clark ended the drought with a floater in the lane, and a Stattmann three from the corner made it 20-18. Woldetensae answered a Bacot slam with a three, and a Keeling long two cut Virginia’s lead to three with just under four minutes left in the first half. Clark somehow rolled the ball off his fingers as he fell away from the hoop, getting it to go and converting the bonus free throw for a six point lead.

North Carolina got back within two with a series of long twos, and tied the game with an Anthony two after a 2+ minute scoring drought from the Hoos. Both teams had a chance to take the lead, but neither capitalized and went into the locker room tied at 28.

Virginia shot 42% from the field and 30% from three in the first half, but failed to capitalize on UNC’s 10 turnovers. Diakite led the Hoos with eight points, followed by, followed by Woldetensae with six.

When North Carolina didn’t turn it over, they shot 57% from the field. Part of their success came from only shooting four threes, making just one. Both Anthony and Brooks had 10 points apiece, with no one else getting more than four.

Keeling opened the second half scoring with a long two, but Woldetensae’s third three put the Hoos slightly ahead. UNC got a friendly bounce on a long two from Keeling before Diakite responded with one of his own.

The two teams traded baskets, with the Tar Heels taking a 34-33 lead with just over 16 minutes remaining thanks to a bucket from Anthony. Woldetensae and Anthony battled with made threes, and Brooks put the Heels up 39-36 with another friendly home bounce off the rim.

Morsell’s first shot of the game — a made three — knotted the score up once again, and Caffaro put the Hoos in front with two made free throws. Anthony had to leave the game on the play that sent Caffaro to the line, taking an elbow to the head. A long two from Morsell retuned the lead to Virginia, 43-41, with 11:11 remaining.

Clark tried to force a pass inside to Caffaro late in the shot clock, leading to an attempted run out from the Heels. Stattmann tapped the ball free, and Clark was able to find Morsell for the easy finish. Brooks ended a 3+ minute drought with a three, then followed with an emphatic dunk to cut the Virginia advantage back to one.

North Carolina took a one-point lead at the free throw line, but Woldetensae canned another to put the Hoos up 50-48 as the clock ticked through 6:50. Another three from Morsell gave Virginia a little breathing room, but Black notched UNC’s first second-chance points of the game with a dunk. Brooks cut the advantage back to one with another long jumper, but Diakite answered on the other end.

Brooks added one free throw — his first free throw make at home since January 11 — but Clark finished a nifty up-and-under at the rim to give the Hoos a four-point cushion. North Carolina turned the ball over, but good look from Woldetensae wouldn’t fall. The Heels got a two-point gift with a basket interference call on Huff, and Clark couldn’t get his floater to fall.

UNC turned it over again — their 15th of the game — giving Virginia a chance to build its lead again. Clark missed at the shot clock, and Bacot tied the game at 57-all with two free throws with 1:10 to play. Diakite came up with a huge shot, getting a right-handed runner to go and drawing a foul. He made the free throw, giving Virginia a 60-57 advantage with 48 seconds remaining. Anthony somehow got a circus shot through traffic to fall, closing the gap to one with just under 27 seconds remaining.

Clark made one-of-two at the line, but Woldetensae was called for a foul on Keeling as he shot a three with 10.3 seconds remaining. Keeling made all three, putting UNC in front 62-61. On the next play, Clark drove the lane, and dished to Woldetensae. The third year sharp-shooter faked, side-stepped to the right, and connected on his sixth three of the game.

Next up, Virginia welcomes Boston College to Charlottesville on Wednesday. Tip off is scheduled for 8pm, and the game will be broadcast on the ACC Network.