GREENSBORO, N.C. ——Durand Scott slumped back in a chair in the Miami locker room, still as a statue, his warmup jacket draped over his head and face. He already had attempted to explain the inexplicable, describe the indescribable.
Left alone finally, he retreated into the narrow, quiet darkness where disappointment lingers and results never change.
Twenty-four hours earlier, Scott and his Miami Hurricanes teammates were joyous after a Virginia collapse in the final 30 seconds of regulation propelled them to an overtime victory in the ACC tournament.
On Friday afternoon, the Hurricanes were on the opposite end after North Carolina erased a 16-point deficit in the final seven-plus minutes and pulled out a buzzer-beating 61-59 win in an ACC tournament quarterfinal.
"I feel horrible," Scott said minutes afterward. "I wanted to win. That's it."
Tyler Zeller's layup at the buzzer off of a pretty feed from Kendall Marshall was Carolina's only lead in a game that Miami controlled for the first 34 minutes.
"It's terrible, man," said 'Canes' guard Malcolm Grant, who led the Hurricanes with 16 points. "You play your heart out, and then for it to come down to that, and they beat us on last-second layup. It's been happening to us all year and then it happened again."
Some will portray Miami's loss Friday as the equivalent of Virginia's epic giveaway one day earlier, but that isn't quite accurate.
The Cavaliers squandered a 10-point lead in the final 40 seconds of regulation. They missed late free throws and committed four turnovers in the final 21 seconds to permit the Hurricanes to come from behind and send it into overtime.
North Carolina won Friday's game at least as much as Miami lost it. Certainly, Grant missed a couple of free throws in the closing minutes, and Adrian Thomas fumbled a Grant pass out of bounds with the score tied at 59 with 18.6 seconds remaining.
But Leslie McDonald (11 points) and Marshall ignited a perimeter shooting barrage that got the Tar Heels — and the overwhelmingly pro-Carolina crowd — back into the game.
"We just tried to keep them out of the paint," Scott said. "I think we did that for the most part. That's where they struggled. They were kind of in a funk, shooting, and they finally got it going — at the wrong time for us and the right time for them."
While Carolina found its offensive rhythm, the Hurricanes lost theirs. Comfortable and confident shooters for the first 34 minutes, they missed 10 of their final 11 shots from the field.
"We missed some wide-open shots," Miami coach Frank Haith said. "We took some ill-advised shots, but we didn't turn the ball over that much. I think we were still getting (shots), we just weren't taking good shots.
"I thought we had some drives to the basket and Reggie (Johnson) had some balls in the post. We missed some bunnies around the hoop. That was part of it. You've got to make those plays."
Friday's game recalled a January stretch in which the Hurricanes lost four consecutive games by a total of 11 points. One of those was a 74-71 loss to Carolina, in which freshman Harrison Barnes hit the game-winning 3-pointer with 6.6 seconds remaining.
Haith said he expected the Heels to go to Barnes (18 points) again in the closing seconds. Instead, Marshall used a screen near the top of the key, drove down the right side of the lane and fed Zeller with a pretty wrap-around pass as the Hurricanes' Johnson slid over to help on defense.
Zeller got the ball out of his left hand and up on the glass as the buzzer sounded.
"We should be playing (Saturday)," Grant said. "There's no reason why we should have lost that game, but we've got to live with it."