PARADISE ISLAND, BAHAMAS - Ernest Saunders dropped in a three-pointer from the right wing with 18.1 seconds to play to cap a 14-5 run and give the Providence (Bahamas) Storm an 84-83 men's basketball exhibition game victory over the University of North Carolina Friday in Nassau.
The Tar Heels led 78-70 after a Justin Jackson basket with three minutes to go, but the Storm scored seven straight points, the final three on a long-range jumper by Deandre Auton, who had 17 points and a game-high 18 rebounds.
Jackson and Desmond Hubert scored baskets for UNC for an 82-79 lead, the latter on a dunk after a no-look, one-touch pass from Marcus Paige. Eugene Bain's baseline jumper pulled Providence within a point, then Kennedy Meeks increased Carolina's advantage to 83-81 after making one of two from the line.
After Carolina made a defensive stop, freshman Theo Pinson missed a pair of free throws with 32 seconds to play. Saunders connected on his three on the ensuing possession to give the Storm its first lead since 51-49 in the third quarter.
The Tar Heels had three shots on their final possession, including a final try from the right corner by Jackson but failed to score.
Providence forward Keno Burrows led all scorers with 18 and was joined in double figures on the Storm by Auton (17), Eugene Bain (14), Saunders (13) and Shakwon Lewis (10).
"They were more aggressive than we were and they made plays down the stretch," says Carolina head coach Roy Williams. "We missed a number of free throws in the fourth quarter and then we failed to pick up an open shooter on that three-pointer that gave them the lead. We made lots of mistakes, went 3 for 25 from three and missed free throws. Hopefully we will learn from this and play better tomorrow."
Unofficially, Carolina shot 45 percent from the field on 36 of 80 shooting, 12 percent from three-point range and 40 percent (8 of 20) from the free throw line.
Junior forward Brice Johnson played just seven minutes after spraining his right ankle in the second quarter. Paige also went out of the game in the third quarter after spraining his ankle and missed several minutes but was able to return. Paige, a preseason candidate for National Player of the Year honors, was 3 for 15 from the floor and 2 for 9 from three-point range. He was held to one free throw in the second half.
Tokoto led the Tar Heels in rebounding with nine and assists with seven.
Carolina led 20-18 after one quarter (the game was played in four 10-minute quarters), 41-40 at the half and 63-59 after three quarters.
UNC had its biggest lead of the game at 41-31 with three minutes to play in the opening half, but the Storm finished the half on a 9-0 run to go into intermission just one point behind.
Providence began the third quarter on a 10-4 run to take its largest lead of the game at 50-45, but Carolina came back quickly to move ahead, 54-51, on a drive and three-point play by Berry. Pinson scored six points in the third quarter to spark Carolina, and had a fourth field goal wiped out on a disputed offensive foul.
The Tar Heels play the Bahamas All-Stars on Saturday at 5 p.m. in their second and final game in the Summer of Thunder Tournament.
North Carolina (83): Isaiah Hicks (11), Justin Jackson (10), Kennedy Meeks (10), Marcus Paige (9), J.P. Tokoto (9), Joel Berry II (8), Desmond Hubert (8), Theo Pinson (8), Brice Johnson (6), Nate Britt (2), Joel James (2)
Providence Storm (84): Keno Burrows (18), Deandre Auton (17), Eugene Bain (14), Ernest Saunders (13), Shakwon Lewis (10), Jeffrey Henfield (8), Jackson Jacob (2), Dionte Smith (2)