GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) _ It was a scene that teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference had seen before. The game was on the line and Randolph Childress had the ball in his hands.
Duke saw it happen twice in back-to-back years in Durham. Virginia experienced it from the free throw line this season. No. 4 North Carolina became the latest victim Sunday when Childress scored in the waning seconds of overtime to give the seventh-ranked Demon Deacons an 82-80 victory.
``We all knew I was going to take the shot,″ said Childress, named the tournament’s most valuable player.
Childress penetrated the lane from near the center jump circle, drove to the right side of the lane and threw in a 10-footer with 4.6 seconds to go. He scored all nine of Wake Forest’s points in overtime, finished with a game-high 37 points and had 107 for the tournament _ the most points by one player since North Carolina’s Len Rosenbluth got 106 in the 1957 tourney.
``I attacked the one guy that was guarding me and I saw the double-team coming out of the corner of my eye and I went away from the double-team and dribbled into the lane,″ Childress said. ``I shot the runner and it went in. It was a great feeling, but at the same time, I just knew it wasn’t over.″
The first meeting of the two teams in the conference finals then boiled down to an inbounds pass from Pierce Landry to Jerry Stackhouse on the right wing. Stackhouse launched a 3-pointer over Childress that bounced off the rim. Landry tried to tip it in but failed to control the ball as the buzzer sounded.
For Wake Forest (24-5), it was the school’s first ACC title since 1962, which was the second of successive seasons in which the Demon Deacons won the crown. With this title comes the league’s automatic NCAA berth, and Wake Forest was were named the No. 1 seed in the East Regional and will play nearby North Carolina A&T at Baltimore on Thursday.
``It means the world to me because this is a team, not an individual goal,″ Childress said. ``I didn’t want to leave and not have anything saying that Wake Forest was a good basketball team.″
North Carolina (24-5) not only lost the dramatic title game, but also saw Rasheed Wallace fall with an injury to his left ankle with 7:41 to go in regulation. Depending on the severity of the injury, North Carolina’s route through the NCAA tournament could be a tough one without the 6-foot-10 sophomore.
``It hurt then and it hurts now,″ Wallace said in the locker room as he underwent treatment. ``That’s all there is to it. It’s just hurting.″
The injury was described to a mild to moderate sprain. Trainer Marc Davis said he’ll review Wallace’s condition in the next several days.
Tim Duncan, who played the final 25 minutes with three fouls, got 16 points and 20 rebounds, the latter tying for fifth-best in ACC tourney history. Stackhouse got 24 points for North Carolina, but struggled at the free throw line with 6-for-11 shooting. Donald Williams had 20.
Wake Forest, which entered the game as one of the ACC’s least productive 3-point shooting teams, rode that shot to an early edge to start the second half. Four 3-pointers in the first four minutes helped the Demon Deacons erase their 38-33 halftime deficit and take a 49-42 lead.
The North Carolina offense, which caught fire after a 5-for-18 start in the first half, fought back on the strength of Stackhouse. He had nine points over a five-minute span, capping the run with a 3-point basket at the 9:23 mark to give the Tar Heels a 56-55 lead.
In the midst of that run, Wallace went down with his ankle injury. He stood up on the North Carolina bench, tested the ankle, then took off his left shoe and tossed it under the bench in frustration.
``He wanted to go back in the game,″ Davis said. ``We iced him down and took him to the corner. It was obvious to me that he could not play today.″
Wake Forest took its turn on offense. After a Dante Calabria basket gave North Carolina a 63-57 lead with 6:13 to play, the Demon Deacons erupted for a 14-2 run topped by a Childress 3-pointer at 2:28 for a 71-65 lead.
Then it was North Carolina’s turn, and it was Stackhouse who responded. He followed Williams’ two free throws with a dunk off a turnover, then got the first of a two-shot foul with 52.5 seconds to play. After Rusty LaRue missed a desperate 3-pointer, Stackhouse responded with the game-tying basket. He stepped around LaRue and shot over Tony Rutland to force North Carolina’s second overtime in as many days.
It was a Stackhouse 3-pointer in the semifinals that led to overtime against Maryland on Saturday. But it was Childress who had the shot on Sunday.
``For anyone else to score nine points in overtime and hit the winning shot would’ve taken away from this win,″ Odom said. ``There has never been a more fitting way to finish a career in the ACC tournament than what Randolph did today.″