Dexter Strickland grabs a rebound during Saturday's semifinal win over Maryland - USA TODAY Sports
North Carolina staves off a late Terrapin rally to advance to the ACC Tournament championship game.
GREENSBORO--North Carolina got 15 points apiece from Dexter Strickland and Reggie Bullock and eliminated Maryland from the 2013 ACC Tournament, 79-76 on Saturday. James Michael McAdoo scored 13 points and grabbed 8 rebounds while an injured P.J. Hairston poured in 13 points of his own to help lead the Tar Heels to their 32nd ACC Tournament final.
Hairston was questionable for the game after receiving stitches to close a cut in the webbing of his left (non-shooting hand). Hairston answered any question about his readiness by quickly draining a three-pointer to open the Tar Heel scoring. Strickland, one week after a dreadful shooting game against Duke, caught fire early and shot 7-12 from the floor while handing out 4 assists.
The Terrapins (22-12) had three players in double figures, including leading scorer Alex Len (20 points, 7 rebounds), Nick Faust (17 points, 3 assists) and Dez Wells (15 points, 9 rebounds). Maryland played from behind for all but 58 seconds of the game and were down by as many as 13, unable to summon the same intensity and energy that took down mighty Duke a day earlier.
The Tar Heels (24-9) were unable to throw a knockout punch, however, and the Terrapins found themselves down only 3 with seconds remaining. Maryland ran a designed play for Logan Aronhalt, but his attempt to tie the game fell short as a vocal throng of blue-clad fans celebrated in their seats.
The Tar Heels will next face No.1 seed Miami at 1:00 p.m. The game will be televised by the ACC Network and ESPN. Maryland will return home to await their postseason fate, likely an invitation to the National Invitational Tournament (NIT),