A split second after she had released her corner jumper, Danielle Butts disappeared, lost among a sea of Carolina-blue-clad bodies.
Her first buzzer-beating shot had helped No. 11 North Carolina rally for a 64-62 win over the host Miami Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon.
UNC (19-2, 7-1 ACC) snapped Miami’s 11-game home win streak. The last time the Canes lost a home conference game was 1,072 days ago, losing to Georgia Tech on Feb. 21, 2010.
While Butts, a 5-10 sophomore reserve, celebrated with her joyous teammates, the Canes (15-5, 5-4) were left to ponder how they let a five-point lead slip away in the final 32 seconds.
“That was a horribly disappointing way to lose,” UM coach Katie Meier said. “That was one of the worst losses I’ve ever been a part of — awful.”
The loss overshadowed a career-high 28 points by Canes forward Morgan Stroman, who had nearly half of Miami’s output. She made 9 of 13 shots from the field and 10 of 11 from the line, adding seven offensive rebounds, 13 total boards, four steals and one block.
Canes guard Suriya McGuire, who has won two games this season with baskets in the final seconds, including Thursday at Wake Forest, nearly did it again. Her three-pointer from the left corner gave Miami a 58-55 lead with 1:15 left.
Miami stretched its lead to 61-56 on a pair of free throws by McGuire with 32 seconds left.
But the Canes had trouble inbounding the ball against North Carolina, which is ranked first in the nation in steals. The Tar Heels pressured Maria Brown and Krystal Saunders into turnovers, leading to five North Carolina free throws.
The last two, by Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, tied the score with 12 seconds left.
Rather than take a timeout to set up the final shot — Meier said the last thing she wanted to do there was give UNC a chance to set up its defense and deny an inbounds pass — the Canes rushed downcourt.
McGuire came away with a layup, but the shot missed.
“I don’t think you can argue with an open layup,” Meier said.
With five seconds left, UNC’s Brittany Rountree grabbed the rebound and quickly looked ahead.
“Brittany and I made eye contact,” Butts said. “My initial reaction was just to get open. Brittany made a great pass. I just caught it and shot it.”
UNC’s defense, which ranks sixth in the nation in points per possession, had an impact, forcing 27 turnovers. Miami made just 32 percent of its shots.
But the Canes defense was equally tough, forcing 29 turnovers and holding UNC to 37 percent shooting, including just one three-pointer.
A big factor was the unusually cold shooting the Canes got out of guard Stefanie Yderstrom, who leads the team in scoring. She went 0 for 11 from the field in the first half and 1 for 13 in the game.