COLLEGE PARK -- North Carolina freshman Antawn Jamison turned Dante Calabria's desperation pass into an improbable, game-winning basket last night to beat Maryland in overtime, 88-86, at Cole Field House.
The game-winner came out of a scramble for the ball under the Carolina basket with the final seconds counting down.
Carolina's Jeff McInnis had missed a short jumper in the lane, and several players wrestled for the ball on the floor. But it was Calabria who came up with it, ricocheted it off the backboard and into the hands of Jamison, who scored with the putback.
The finish left a sellout crowd of 14,500 gasping, Maryland coach Gary Williams drained, and Tar Heels coach Dean Smith feeling more than a little fortunate.
"Lucky," Smith said after the No. 16 Tar Heels improved to 2-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference and 11-2 overall. "Any team that wins that way in overtime has to be lucky."
The loss in Cole was Maryland's first since March 2, 1994, a 73-69 decision against Duke. Since then, the Terps (6-5, 0-2) had won nine consecutive ACC games and 21 overall.
It did not go down easily for Williams, who looked distraught. "The last play was one of the freakiest plays I've seen in a long time," he said.
Asked if replays showed that Jamison's shot beat the buzzer, Williams said: "It was close. It was right there. It was one of those things . . . you hope to get the home call on that one."
Jamison was a fitting hero in a game that seesawed back and forth down the stretch. He hit 14 of 16 shots and scored 31 points, 25 of them after halftime. Smith dropped Jamison, a freshman, out of the starting lineup last night because he did not box out well in Thursday's victory over North Carolina State.
Calabria scored 21 points, and had four assists and four steals. But it was his miracle pass that saved the day for Carolina.
"The ball was on the floor, and 54 [Obinna Ekezie] and I were going for it," Calabria said. "It slipped away from him to me. I didn't know how much time was left; I was just hoping to get it to someone on our team for a shot.
"I'll take the assist."
And Jamison will take the shot.
"Luckily, it just fell in," he said. "I want to congratulate my team for finding me open in a spot like that."
From what Williams saw, the pass defied all logic.
"Calabria's good, but he's not that good, to put spin on it," Williams said.
It spoiled what had been a remarkable comeback for Maryland. The Terps trailed by as much as 12 points in the first half, and by as many as 11 in the second.
Mario Lucas triggered the comeback with a barrage of three-pointers -- a career-high four in all. He hit seven of 12 shots and led Maryland with 21 points. Duane Simpkins, hitting five of eight three-pointers, scored 19, and Keith Booth followed with 15.
The Terps held four leads in the second half, the last at 72-71 on a three-point shot by Simpkins. After Carolina went up 77-73, Ekezie hit a jumper and Booth converted two free throw to forge a tie at 77.
Carolina's Shammod Williams missed a jumper and Maryland called time with 53.9 seconds left. In the final minute, Simpkins and Booth both missed jumpers.
The Terps got a big boost from freshman guard Terrell Stokes, both in regulation and overtime. Stokes scored the first basket of overtime on a layup for the lead. After a Jamison basket, Lucas scored and Simpkins hit a three-pointer for a five-point lead at 84-79.
Jamison scored twice and Calabria hit a three-pointer around two free throws by Stokes to tie the game at 86.
Booth got the ball with the shot clock running down and took a jumper from the corner with 23 seconds left. Calabria rebounded and McInnis penetrated to begin the final play.
"In that situation, I want to take the ball to the basket," Booth said. "I saw there were only four seconds left on the shot clock, and I had to make something happen. I thought I was open for the jump shot."
Williams tried to find the silver lining in an otherwise painful loss.
"You look for positive signs, and we played a lot better [than in Wednesday's ACC-opening loss to Georgia Tech]," he said.
"The two opportunities we had at the end of the half and regulation, I wasn't particularly happy with what we did. But that's something to work on."
Asked about the last play in overtime, Williams said: "We wanted to penetrate, drop it off for a jump shot with time left to tip it in."
Next for Maryland
Opponent: Florida State
Site: Cole Field House
When: Tuesday, 8 p.m.
I= Yesterday: Lost to No. 12 Wake Forest in overtime, 75-73.