January 4, 2010

Heels at a loss for words after upset loss to College of Charleston

CHARLESTON, S.C. - North Carolina's players have had trouble coming up with answers after their road losses, and this time most of them didn't even want to talk at all.

Senior forward Deon Thompson left a subdued and somber Carolina locker room without speaking to reporters after the ninth-ranked Tar Heels' 82-79 overtime loss against College of Charleston.

"We're about as low as we can be right now," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said.

The Tar Heels (11-4) blew an 11-point lead in the final four minutes and never led in overtime against the Cougars (8-6).

UNC had a chance to tie with after a timeout with 1.1 seconds to go in overtime, but Charleston guard Donavan Monroe sealed the game by intercepting a pass intended for Larry Drew II in the corner.

That was not as dramatic a moment as the one that sent the game to overtime, when Cougars guard Andrew Goudelock hit a 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds remaining, but it sparked the Charleston students to rush the court and left the Tar Heels shaking their heads.

All four UNC losses this season have come on the road, but this one appeared to sting the players the most because it was not against a ranked opponent like the first three.

"It's a tough loss, especially going into the ACC," said Ed Davis, who led UNC with 19 points and 16 rebounds. "We just have to strap it up and get ready to play."

The Tar Heels, who have had problems shaking off lesser foes this season, didn't look ready to handle the Southern Conference, much less the ACC.

The end of regulation provided the latest example of how Williams is having trouble getting his young team to heed his words from the sideline.

When Charleston got the ball with a chance to tie and 14 seconds remaining, Williams yelled and gestured at his players on the court to foul because UNC had two fouls to give.

But no one listened, and Goudelock - who led the Cougars with 24 points - hit a rainbow 3-pointer over the outstretched arm of Thompson to tie the game at 73.

"The youngster made a big-time shot, and we made a silly play to put him in that position," Williams said.

The Tar Heels trailed for a good part of the back-and-forth game but eventually got separation by running off seven straight points to go up 72-61 with four minutes to go.

"I thought it was over," Charleston coach Bobby Cremins said.

Instead, the Cougars finished the game on a 12-1 run, capped by Goudelock's three.

Carolina hit just one 3-pointer in the game, and that came with 59 seconds left in overtime when Drew cut Charleston's lead to one.

It didn't help being without the team's top 3-point shooters percentage wise - Marcus Ginyard - and in overall number made - Will Graves.

Both were out with sprained ankles, and Ginyard was missing his third straight game, but Williams wasn't blaming too much of UNC's woes on missing the pair.

"No matter who is in the game, those are the guys who have to play, and they have to make some shots," Williams said.

In past games this season against unranked opponents, Carolina has rallied from its own self-imposed struggles and come away with victories.

Not being able to this time - and on the cusp of beginning ACC play, no less - made for an emotionally taxed locker room.

One that wasn't in the mood to talk.

"We always talk," Drew said. "There's something with this team, we've got to stop talking at a point and start playing. We've got to start walking the talk."



 

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