Tar Heels survive close call against shorthanded Irish

Joel Berry's late free throws, last-second misses help UNC eek out a 69-68 win at Notre Dame on Saturday

Players for both UNC and Notre Dame react to a last-second miss by the Irish's T.J. Gibbs (hands on his head) as the Tar Heels escaped with a 69-68 victory (Matt Cashore/USA TODAY Sports)

Joel Berry II made two free throws with 7.1 seconds left and No. 20 North Carolina made a final defensive stand to defeat Notre Dame 69-68 on Saturday night at the Joyce Center in South Bend, Ind.

Notre Dame’s TJ Gibbs missed two shots on its final possession, including his putback attempt that bounced around the rim and fell away.

Luke Maye scored 13 of his 18 points in the first half, Berry finished with 15 points and Theo Pinson added 13 points for North Carolina (14-4, 3-2 ACC). Maye had 11 rebounds.

Gibbs tallied 19 points for Notre Dame (13-5, 3-2). Martinas Geben had 14 points, and Nikola Djogo provided 12 points.

The go-ahead sequence was an adventure as North Carolina‘s Sterling Manley bobbled an inbound pass with four seconds on the shot clock. Berry rebounded Manley’s air ball and barely got the shot off before the shot clock expired with 7.1 seconds on the game clock.

The Tar Heels have won the last four meetings with the Fighting Irish.

Maye gave North Carolina a 67-66 lead with a free throw after he air-balled the first toss on the two-shot opportunity with 1:32 remaining. Gibbs made two free throws at the 37-second mark, putting the Fighting Irish on top 68-67. Kenny Williams fouled out on the play going for a strip after Gibbs grabbed a defensive rebound.

The Fighting Irish fell to 2-2 without All-American Bonzie Colson, who’s out with a broken foot. Notre Dame guard Matt Farrell missed his third consecutive game with an ankle injury, though he was in uniform and went through warmups.

Notre Dame collected 20 offensive rebounds, helping make up for 34.8 percent shooting from the field. The Fighting Irish held a 45-37 overall rebounding advantage.

Pinson scored five straight points as North Carolina led 56-50 with its biggest lead of the game.

Aided by a pair of Gibbs 3-pointers in a 41-second span, the Fighting Irish pulled even at 60-60. Notre Dame surged to a 66-60 lead on a pair of 3-pointers from Djogo.

Cam Johnson’s 3-pointer in the waning seconds of the first half gave the Tar Heels a 40-37 edge at the break.