CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — UT Martin coach Kevin McMillan gambled — and nearly won.
When McMillan learned his team would be playing North Carolina in the first round of the NCAA tournament on the Tar Heels' home floor, he walked into his practice to speak to his players about strategy.
"I told them we have three ways to play this — and one of them is crazy. You guys are going to think I've lost my mind," McMillan said.
But his team went for it.
The strategy meant the Skyhawks, the nation's third-highest scoring team, were going to take the air of the ball and slow down the game down against North Carolina.
It nearly worked.
The Tar Heels needed a put back off an offensive rebound by Xylina McDaniel with 56 seconds remaining to overcome an 18-point second half deficit and beat UT Martin 60-58 on Sunday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
McDaniel scored 14 points, even converting a shot from sitting on the floor under the basket.
Karisma Tyson had a chance to win the game for UT Martin but her 3-pointer was off the mark as time expired.
Heather Butler finished with 19 points for UT Martin, tying the all-time NCAA career record for career 3-pointers made. Butler finished her career with 392 3s, tying the mark set by Kansas State's Laurie Koehn in 2005.
But she was left wondering what might have been.
"We fought, we fought, and it's just really hard to lose that ball game when I know we deserved it, you know," Butler said. "We deserved it. We fought so hard and just had it in our hands and there it went. It hurts and it's going to hurt probably for the rest of my life but you know that's the way it goes sometimes."
North Carolina trailed 50-32 with 10:51 left in the game when Diamond DeShields ignited a 15-0 run. DeShields, the conference's freshman player of the year, had 13 of her 15 points during the second half.
After the game, fans were forced to stay inside Carmichael Arena after police announced there was an armed and dangerous person near the campus.