Published March 14, 2015
Atlanta, GA – Greensboro, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Notre Dame was going dancing regardless of Saturday's result in the ACC Tournament championship game, but the result will make the week leading up to March Madness that much sweeter for Mike Brey's club.
Pat Connaughton scored 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting and Jerian Grant and Zach Auguste posted double-doubles to lead the 11th-ranked Fighting Irish to a 90-82 win over No. 19 North Carolina to claim the ACC Tournament crown.
Grant finished with 24 points and 10 assists and Auguste had 16 points and 13 rebounds to help Notre Dame (29-5) to its first tournament title in program history. The Irish had never previously reached a conference final.
Marcus Paige led North Carolina (24-11) with 24 points and Brice Johnson added 20 in defeat.
The Tar Heels turned a 39-34 halftime deficit into a comfortable lead just five minutes into the second half. Paige hit from deep and Johnson got a pair of short jumpers to go during a 9-0 start to the period. After two Grant free throws, Johnson scored on the block and Paige hit again from deep to give UNC a 48-41 lead.
The lead grew to nine before Notre Dame flipped the script. Demetrius Jackson, Steve Vasturia and Connaughton all hit 3s during a 15-0 run that took just under three minutes. Vasturia also took a steal coast-to-coast for a layup and Auguste scored four points during the surge, which put the Irish in front by a 71-64 score with 6:15 left.
Connaughton's fourth triple made it 76-66 with 4:20 to go, and Auguste tipped in Grant's missed dunk less than a minute later to essentially seal the deal.
Grant and Auguste shot 23-for-27 combined from the foul line.
Both teams led by as many as six during a back-and-forth first half. Vasturia beat the buzzer with a triple to send Notre Dame up by five at halftime.
UNC last won the ACC Tournament in 2008. Since then, it has lost in the finals four times ... Notre Dame has won five straight games ... The series is tied at 2-2 since Notre Dame joined the ACC last season ... Vasturia and Jackson scored 14 and 11 points, respectively.