PHILADELPHIA — Caleb Love hit the equalizer and the go-ahead 3-pointer 37 seconds apart and North Carolina moved on in a victory of their 21st Final Four, beating UCLA 73-66 on Friday night in a clash March Madness of power programs.
Love, a sophomore, finished with a career-high 30 points, including six 3s and two game-clinching free throws with 7.8 seconds left. He scored 27 of Carolina’s 45 second-half points, including a 10-straight streak that kept the Tar Heels (27-9) in the game.
North Carolina’s next game is Sunday against Saint Peter’s in a one-of-a-kind 8-on-15 matchup in the Elite Eight. The 15th-seeded Peacocks beat Purdue 67-64 earlier in the evening.
No one stood out more than Love, who was held to five points in last week’s win over Baylor but managed one more point than that in the decisive 37 seconds. His go-ahead 3 came with 1:03 to go and marked the last of 14 lead changes in the game which was also tied eight times.
UCLA (27-8), seeded fourth, is down two wins heading into its 20th Final Four. Last year’s season ended with a shot from almost half the field by Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs. This time, Love did it for the Bruins, who got 16 points from Jules Bernard and 15 from Tyger Campbell.
In their second-round win over Baylor, the Tar Heels squandered a 25-point lead to put things together and retire the game in overtime.
This match got dicey once Brady Manek was thrown out for inadvertently throwing an elbow. Manek played all but two minutes in this one and finished with 13 points.
New York Post