North Carolina's 6-foot-10 John Henson tipped Justin Holiday's inbounds pass under UW's basket away with 5.7 seconds left and the Huskies down 1. Venoy Overton then missed a rushed 3-point try from just inside half court, and Isaiah Thomas' corner 2 was short at the buzzer as seventh-seeded Washington lost an excruciatingly taut game to the second-seeded Tar Heels 86-83 on Sunday in the third round of the NCAA tournament's East region at Time Warner Cable Arena.
The resilient Huskies, who won last weekend's Pac-10 tournament on Thomas' last-second swish, just ran out of buzzer-beating shots while being denied a second consecutive trip to the Sweet 16.
Tyler Zeller had 23 points and Harrison Barnes had 22 for North Carolina (28-7) , which goes to the Sweet 16 Friday in Newark N.J. The Tar Heels, who never led by more than 2 until the final minutes, will play the winner of Sunday's later game between third-seeded Syracuse and 11th-seeded Marquette.
Washington led by 1 at the half, and the second half was crazy good. Each shot was contested, each rebound scrapped for with the season on the line. The standoff remained with 7:27 left, tied at 69, when Thomas checked back in. He was 4-12 from the field at that point.
But Thomas turned it over, the second of two UW turnovers, and Barnes hit a 3 to put North Carolina ahead 78-76 with 4:02 remaining. The arena erupted in Carolina-blue cheers over what equaled the Tar Heels' biggest lead.
Scott Suggs hit a clutch 3-pointer to cut Carolina's lead to 84-83 with 17.3 left and set up the frantic finish.
The Huskies went on an 11-0 run behind a 3-point barrage from Ross, Darnell Gant and Overton. Overton's layup and conventional 3-point play had Washington ahead 26-15 early.
The inevitable Carolina run happened soon after. Alarmingly, the Tar Heels grabbed four loose balls that the Huskies were late getting to, and the 19-7 run had UNC back in front.
Yet the Huskies withstood that, the roaring Carolina crowd, the 11-2 disparity in fouls and Thomas scoring just four points on 2-for-8 shooting during the contentious first half to take a 45-44 lead into the break.
Coach Lorenzo Romar started 7-footer Aziz N'Diaye and 6-foot-6 guard Scott Suggs to combat Carolina's huge front line of 7-footer Tyler Zeller, 6-10 John Henson and 6-8 Harrison Barnes. And N'Diaye was great, finishing with 11 rebounds and stellar defense inside.
N'Diaye was making his first start since the regular-season finale two weeks ago. Suggs was making his first start since Feb. 17.