GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Wake Forest coach Dave Odom said it this weekend, and teammates have repeated it throughout the season about guard Randolph Childress. "It's his world," Odom said. "I just live in it."
Yesterday, Childress completed a remarkable weekend in which he made an entire league his world.
The senior scored 37 points, including 17 of the final 19 for the top-seeded Demon Deacons, as they outlasted North Carolina, 82-80, in overtime to capture the championship of the 42nd annual Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
The victory raised Wake Forest's record to 24-5 and gave the small private school from Winston-Salem its first ACC title since 1962.
The victory, Wake Forest's 10th in a row, also secured the top seed in the East Regional of the NCAA tournament, where the Demon Deacons will play 16th seed North Carolina A&T.;
"It's been a long time coming, no question about that," Odom said of the school's third ACC championship. "The only danger is savoring this too much and too long."
North Carolina, appearing in its fifth straight ACC title game, dropped to 24-5. The Tar Heels were seeded No. 2 in the NCAA's Southeast Regional, and will face 15th seed Murray State in the first round.
Childress, the ACC tournament's most valuable player, was strictly No. 1. He scored 107 points in three games, breaking the record of 106 set in 1957 by Len Rosenbluth, a North Carolina forward. Appropriately, the record-breaking points decided the title game, as Childress made a floating jumper from eight feet after beating a double team with four seconds left in overtime.
"Everyone knew I was going to take the shot," said Childress, who rarely changes expression on the court. "I shot the runner and it went in. It was a great feeling, but at the same time, I just knew it wasn't over."
North Carolina got a last shot and went for a victory on a three-pointer by Jerry Stackhouse, the forward who finished with 24 points and eight rebounds. But the contested jumper bounced off the rim, and Pearce Landry, a reserve, missed a desperate tap as the clock expired.
The Tar Heels played the last eight minutes of regulation and the entire overtime without Rasheed Wallace, their sophomore center. Wallace sprained his left ankle while attempting a shot, but he is expected to play in the NCAA tournament.
The injury was described as a mild to moderate sprain. Trainer Marc Davis said he will review Wallace's condition in the next several days.
Wallace and Stackhouse helped North Carolina to a 38-33 halftime lead, as the Tar Heels dominated the boards and held Wake Forest to 37.5 percent shooting.
But in a game of sudden streaks, Wake Forest opened the second half with 11 unanswered points, the last coming on a three-pointer by Childress with just under 17 minutes remaining. Childress hit 23 of 44 from long range during Wake Forest's tournament victories over North Carolina, Virginia and Duke.
Carolina, trailing by six points with less than three minutes to go, rallied by turning up the defensive pressure. And then Stackhouse sent the game into overtime at 73-73 with a three-pointer from the top of the key with 4.5 seconds left.
The extra period belonged to Childress, who scored all nine of his team's points and saw Wake Forest survive his ill-advised charge on a drive to the basket with 48 seconds to go and a three-point lead.
"He made all the big plays for them," Stackhouse said. "He's been on fire against everybody. He came to play. We came to play, but he made play after play."
Odom, in his sixth year as Wake Forest's coach, expressed satisfaction that the championship game was decided by Childress.
"For anybody else to score the nine points, including the winning shot, almost would have taken away from the victory," said the coach. "I'm so glad Randolph had that opportunity."