Late rally not enough for Heels
Talib Zanna had 19 points and a career-high 21 rebounds to help Pittsburgh beat No. 15 North Carolina 80-75 in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament quarterfinals Friday.
James Robinson also scored a career-best 19 points for the fifth-seeded Panthers (25-8), who used a dominating start to build a huge lead before having to hold off a late rally by the fourth-seeded Tar Heels (23-9).
Pittsburgh led by 20 points with 7:22 left before UNC's frantic comeback behind Marcus Paige, who scored 20 of his 27 points after halftime before fouling out with 25.4 seconds left.
UNC got it to 78-75 on Nate Britt's jumper with 11.4 seconds left but couldn't complete the comeback. James Robinson knocked down two free throws to make it a two-possession game again right after Britt's score, then Lamar Patterson rebounded a hurried 3-pointer by James Michael McAdoo with 4.3 seconds left to essentially seal it.
Now, after a dominating performance in Thursday's second round and a bumbling-but-successful finish Friday, the Panthers will face sixth-ranked and top-seeded Virginia in Saturday's semifinals.
Zanna, a 6-foot-9 fifth-year senior, came within two rebounds of tying the single-game tournament rebounding record that had stood since 1959. He fouled out with 1:03 left.
Zanna had 10 offensive rebounds — one shy of UNC's team total — and helped Pitt control the boards while taking a 21-6 edge in second-chance points against a team that was third in the league in rebounding margin for the regular season.
With all those point-blank extra looks off offensive rebounds, Pitt shot 52 percent for the game.
North Carolina spent all day trying to recover from a terrible start. It missed 16 of 19 shots and fell behind 25-8, though its late comeback at least gave them some hope of sticking around Greensboro a little longer.
North Carolina shot 42 percent, though much of that production came after Pitt had built a 61-41 lead on Josh Newkirk's three-point play midway through the second half.