Raivio helps Gonzaga upset No. 2 North CarolinaNov 23, 2006 - 5:09 AM NEW YORK (Ticker) -- Derek Raivio was able to do something that Adam Morrison never did.
Raivio scored 21 points and Josh Heytvelt added 19 as No. 23 Gonzaga continued its surprising success against teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference with an 82-74 victory over second-ranked North Carolina in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Defeating the highest-ranked foe in school history, the Bulldogs (5-0) advanced to Friday's championship game against equally surprising Butler. Gonzaga improved to 8-1 against teams from the ACC at Madison Square Garden.
"It was a great night for our team and the program," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "It was a great night and special to beat a program like North Carolina."
It was the type of high-profile win that Morrison, who led the nation in scoring last season, struggled to get, as Gonzaga failed to make it past UCLA in the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.
Looking to prove that the Bulldogs were more than just Morrison, Raivio netted 15 second-half points as Gonzaga was able to make a 16-point lead hold up despite a late push by North Carolina.
"Coming into the year, we knew we had a solid team still (despite the absence of Morrison and J.P. Batista), but we knew we had a lot of potential and a lot of doubters," Raivio said. "We had to prove them wrong this year."
Raivio hit a jumper and added two 3-pointers to highlight a 14-2 run that gave the Bulldogs a shocking 65-49 advantage with 12:25 to play.
However, the Tar Heels stormed back behind freshman Brandan Wright, who scored nine points and had three key blocks in the final 20 minutes.
Notching his second straight block on Raivio and getting a foul when he picked up the loose ball, Wright sank 1-of-2 free throws to cut the deficit to 70-64 with 5:10 to play.
After a pair of free throws by Danny Green, UNC (3-1) got within 70-68 on Wright's follow dunk nearly a minute later.
However, Jeremy Pargo answered with a driving layup en route to a three-point play. Raivio added a jumper to make it 77-71 with 2:05 remaining.
"We cut the game to two and turned around and gave up a easy layup and a (free throw) before the game got away from us," Williams said. "(Few's) team was far more ready to play. Their defense had something to do with our shooting (36 percent) and are defense wasn't up to par, having them shoot 51 percent."
Wright finished with 21 points trying to pick up the slack for Tyler Hansbrough, who managed just nine points on 2-of-5 shooting. The Wooden Award candidate also shot just 5-of-9 on free throws.
Few credited a different play of attack for slowing down Hansbrough.
"We played a different defense on him from other big men around," Few said. "We doubled him hard on the catch. As a team, we did a good job on him tonight."
The plan of attack worked as Hansbrough, who entered the contest averaging 22.3 points, was so frustrated that the sophomore just about gave up on the offensive end. "He just didn't attack," Heytvelt said. "Just the fact we played such good defense on him and got him thinking that he couldn't go to work on us. It kind of slowed him down."
"They played a tough and physical double team and kept me from getting the ball," Hansbrough said. "It was something that I wasn't use to. I didn't play my best and I can learn from this experience."
Freshman Ty Lawson and Bobby Frasor both scored 11 points for North Carolina, which shot just 37 percent (25-of-68), including 6-of-27 on 3-pointers. A two-time winner of the preseason NIT, North Carolina absorbed just its third loss in 19 games in this event.
"The best team won the game tonight and best coach was on the other side of the bench," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said.
North Carolina will face No. 21 Tennessee in the consolation game on Friday.
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