ACC Tournament semifinals: Florida State 73, North Carolina 70
By Bret Strelow
ATLANTA ó North Carolina exits the ACC Tournament with an extra day of rest rather than a title.
UNC coach Roy Williams made it clear he prefers the latter.
The top-ranked and top-seeded Tar Heels lost 73-70 against Florida State in a tournament semifinal Saturday afternoon. Wayne Ellington scored 24 points and Tyler Hansbrough had 22 points, 11 rebounds and five steals as they fell short in their bid to claim a third consecutive championship.
“There’s no tomorrow now,” Williams said. “The next time you feel this way at the end of a game, you’re done.”
The fourth-seeded Seminoles (25-8) will face third-seeded Duke in today’s final at 1 p.m., and an injury-riddled UNC team that has played its last two games without point guard Ty Lawson can begin preparing for the NCAA tournament.
The Tar Heels (28-4) are still in line to receive a No. 1 seed and begin play in nearby Greensboro.
“If it helps our players’ bodies I’ll take that, but I don’t know if I’ve ever tried to find that lining in a loss,” Williams said. “I guess you could say, if you choose to, that the extra day could help us, but I’d rather win.”
Toney Douglas pushed FSU into the ACC final for the first time, and it could become the first team since Wake Forest in 1995 to beat UNC and Duke in the same conference tournament.
Douglas capped a 27-point performance against the Tar Heels with two free throws that gave the Seminoles a 71-70 lead with 47 seconds left. Derwin Kitchen poked the ball away from a posted-up Hansbrough, who fell two points shy of tying former Duke star J.J. Redick for first place on the ACC’s career scoring list, and hit two more free throws with 15 seconds remaining.
Ellington missed a contested 3-pointer from the left wing with three seconds left, and teammate Danny Green grabbed the offensive rebound before retreating out to the arc. A 3-point try from Green, who went 3-for-25 from the field and totaled nine points in two tournament games, was also off the mark.
The Tar Heels celebrated in a subdued manner after winning each of the last two tournament championships, and Saturday’s outcome didn’t appear to create any panic in the locker room.
“Tyler was extremely mad after the game and did show some emotion, but I think this year the team knows how good we are,” said senior Bobby Frasor, who again filled in for Lawson and played 33 minutes. “If we win a national championship, I think you’ll see us show some emotion.”
One free throw from Frasor with 1:03 left broke a 69-all tie and gave the Tar Heels their only lead in the final 131/2 minutes.
North Carolina went to great lengths to try and contain Douglas, but the Seminoles shot 67 percent in the second half.
UNC threw a zone at FSU after the break, and Deividas Dulkys promptly hit one of his three 3-pointers. The Tar Heels also double-teamed ball screens involving Douglas, and he still managed to score 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting in the final 20 minutes.
“This is the very best feeling I’ve had,” said Douglas, whose brother Harry calls the Georgia Dome home as a kick returner and receiver for the Atlanta Falcons. “I can’t even count how many people are here. Some of them bought tickets. I know my phone will be ringing later on, probably right now. I’m just so happy.”
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