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Hansbrough, Lawson help UNC clinch share of ACC title

Mar 5, 2009 - 6:56 AM BLACKSBURG, Virginia (Ticker) -- Tyler Hansbrough had 22 points and 15 rebounds and Ty Lawson also scored 22 as second-ranked North Carolina held on for an 86-78 victory over Virginia Tech on Wednesday.

Wayne Ellington added 15 points for the Tar Heels (26-3, 12-3 ACC), who clinched at least a share of the Atlantic Coast Conference for the third straight season. They can win the conference outright with a victory over No. 7 Duke on Sunday.

"I think we showed some toughness tonight," UNC coach Roy Williams said. "We talked about that: (I said), 'We've been a great road team for the last three or four years but we stumbled and let one get away, so let's see if we're as tough as I say we are.'"

It was the fifth loss in six games for Virginia Tech (17-12, 7-8), which fought valiantly over the final 20 minutes but could never take the lead.

"I think we did a lot of good things, but I just don't think we got outside of ourselves," Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg said. "To beat the No. 2 team in the country, you have to get outside of yourself. You've got to find something in the pit of your stomach that just makes losing not an option. We got close to that point, but we never got to that point."

A.D. Vassallo's jumper capped a 6-0 spurt that knotted the score at 50-50, but Danny Green answered with a 3-pointer for the Tar Heels.

Green's second shot from the arc pushed North Carolina's advantage to 61-56 with 8:38 to play before Virginia Tech pulled back within 63-62 on Vassallo's floater in the lane with 5:16 remaining.

"When a team goes on a run and you don't stop their run, it's kind of hard to get your momentum back and swing it back your way," Green said. "We had to at some point stop their run and stop them when we needed to and go on our little run."

However, that would be as close as Virginia Tech could get as Hansbrough and Lawson each scored four points during a 10-0 burst to give UNC a 73-62 lead with 2:59 left.

"That shows you why they're good," Vassallo said. "They could have folded, and been like 'Oh man, these guys are playing really hard.' But they came back and got the run and that shows how good they are."

Vassallo scored 25 points, Malcolm Delaney added 19 and Jeff Allen had 18 and 12 rebounds for the Hokies (17-12, 7-8), who visit Florida State on Sunday in their regular-season finale. Virginia Tech will likely need to win that game to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive.

"It just hurt me more knowing that we would have a chance at being in the Tournament with this win," Vassallo said. "We had the game where we wanted, like we did with Duke (on Saturday). We were tied with a few minutes left."

The Tar Heels, who shot 41 percent (27-of-66) for the game, held a 42-36 advantage at the break.