No. 3 N.C. 63, Old Dominion 61
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ Ed Cota rescued sloppy North Carolina with 20 points, including a driving layup with 1.5 seconds left, giving the third-ranked Tar Heels a 63-61 victory over Old Dominion in the Food Lion MVP Classic on Friday night.
Cota added six assists and three steals as North Carolina (8-0) turned back the Monarchs’ bid for their first 7-0 start since 1960-61.
The Monarchs had built their unblemished record against the likes of such lesser-knowns as Elon and Hampton, but they also had a strong showing against the Tar Heels, winners of the Chase Preseason NIT.
Old Dominion’s Clifton Jones hit a 3-pointer with 17 seconds left, tying it at 61. Cota took the inbounds pass, dribbled upcourt to near the top of the key and waited for the clock to wind down before he drove the left side of the lane and banked in the layup.
Old Dominion’s Reggie Bassette had trouble catching the inbounds pass near midcourt and couldn’t get off a shot before time expired.
North Carolina, playing its fifth game in 13 days, turned it over 11 times in the first half but just twice the rest of the way.
The Tar Heels also got 16 points from freshman Jason Capel, who was playing against a team coached by his father, Jeff. Ademola Okulaja had nine points and 13 rebounds.
Brendan Haywood, North Carolina’s 7-foot center, didn’t get his first field goal until nearly 25 minutes into the game. He wound up with 10 points, which included a 6-for-7 performance from the free-throw line.
Old Dominion’s Cal Bowdler had 22 points and 11 rebounds. Mark Poag added 13 points for the Monarchs.
Up by four at halftime, Old Dominion pushed its lead to 39-32 on a 3-pointer by Michael Williams with 16:52 remaining before North Carolina rallied.
Okulaja scored the next four points, putting the Tar Heels in position to twice cut their deficit to a single point before Cota hit a 3-pointer that made it 45-all with 10:59 left.
The basket set off a flurry of three lead changes and three ties over the next three-plus minutes.
Cota appeared to give the Tar Heels the momentum when he stole an errant pass and went the length of the court, dribbling around three defenders on the way to a layup that put North Carolina up by three. But Poag answered on the other end with a 21-footer to tie it at 53.