GREENSBORO, N.C. — Forward Talib Zanna’s 19 points and 21 rebounds boosted Pittsburgh to an 80-75 victory over No. 15-ranked North Carolina, which was unable to complete a late-game comeback in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament quarterfinal Friday afternoon at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Guard James Robinson added 19 points, forward Lamar Patterson had 12 points and guard Cameron Wright supplied 11 points for the Panthers, who now own a shiny victory to go on their NCAA tournament portfolio.
Fifth-seeded Pittsburgh (25-8) meets top-seeded Virginia, a 64-51 victor against Florida State in the day’s first quarterfinal, in Saturday’s semifinal round.
North Carolina guard Marcus Paige scored 27 points — including 20 in the last 15 minutes — before fouling out with 25 second left.
Still, North Carolina guard Nate Britt had a chance to cut the gap to two points but missed a shot in the lane at the 18-second mark. After a Pittsburgh free throw, Britt’s jumper made it 78-75 with 11.4 seconds left.
Zanna fouled out with 1:03 left as North Carolina staged a comeback from a 20-point, second-half hole to get within 75-71.
Zanna had 17 rebounds with more than 12 minutes to play. North Carolina had 16 rebounds at the time.
Forward Brice Johnson had 16 points and forward James Michael McAdoo supplied 15 points for fourth-seeded North Carolina.
Paige ignited a rally with two 3-pointers to help close the deficit to 61-49 with less than seven minutes to play.
The Tar Heels were within 74-65 with two minutes to go.
Earlier in the second half, Paige was ailing with an apparent knee injury that forced him out of the game. He left the court area before returning with 15:46 remaining and the Tar Heels trailing 41-31.
The Tar Heels (23-9), who won 12 games in a row until falling in last Saturday’s regular-season finale at Duke, lost consecutive games for the first time since early January.
North Carolina reached the ACC tournament final last year.
The Panthers used a series of offensive rebounds and Patterson’s 3-point basket to stretch a second-half lead to 48-31 with less than 14 minutes left.
Pittsburgh led by as much as 27-9 early in the game, but the Tar Heels closed to within 36-26 by halftime.
North Carolina scored on its last seven possessions of the first half to help withstand Pittsburgh’s 54.2-percent (13-for-24) first-half shooting.
With Pittsburgh holding a 20-8 edge, North Carolina took a timeout at the 8:52 mark of the half. The Panthers were up 25-8 before the Tar Heels ended nearly a four-minute scoring drought with a free throw.
North Carolina missed its first seven shots from the field.
Pittsburgh had field goals from four different players for its first eight points, with Patterson the lone starter without a point during that opening stretch. Patterson drained a jumper for a 12-7 lead.
Pittsburgh eliminated a North Carolina-based team for the second day in a row after trouncing Wake Forest 84-55 on Thursday. That 29-point romp matched its largest-ever league tournament victory.
Pittsburgh lost the only regular-season meeting with Virginia, falling 48-45 at home Feb. 2.
NOTES: North Carolina was the tournament’s fourth seed for the seventh time, most recently in 2000. The Tar Heels won the tournament from the No. 4 spot in 1989. … Pittsburgh F Lamar Patterson set a school record for games played in the Panthers’ tournament opener Thursday. Friday’s outing was his 145th game. … Pittsburgh G Cameron Wright received the Skip Prosser Award, which goes to the ACC’s top scholar-athlete in men’s basketball. … On Thursday, Pittsburgh was the seventh school to win a game in its ACC tournament debut. … North Carolina won the only previous ACC meeting between the teams with a 75-71 decision Feb. 15 in Chapel Hill.
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