UNC’s Roy Williams after another close loss — You can either compete or ‘curl up and start crying’

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — After watching North Carolina lose another heartbreaker, this time 77-76 to Notre Dame on Monday, Roy Williams let out a season’s worth of frustration in his postgame comments.

North Carolina (10-16, 3-12) blew a 15-point lead to the Irish and has lost three of its past four games on last-second shots. For the first time since 2001-02, the Tar Heels will have a losing record entering the ACC tournament.

“You got two choices: You can compete your butt off, or you can get in the fetal position and curl up and start crying,” Williams said. “I’m not going to freaking do that. We’re going to f—ing — excuse me, I apologize to everybody — we’re going to freaking compete. That’s what we’re going to do. We play Saturday. You feel sorry for yourself, and you’re going to do that the rest of your freaking life. I apologize. I don’t know what I’m doing right now the way I’m cursing.”

North Carolina led by 15 points with 8:39 remaining before it let yet another double-digit lead slip away. The Tar Heels are 3-5 in games in which they led by 10 or more points in the second half. The complete implosion against Notre Dame happened in the final 1:26. North Carolina, up four, was called for an offensive foul when Armando Bacot set an illegal screen. Up two with 18.8 seconds remaining, rather than attack the rim, Cole Anthony launched an air ball, and the Tar Heels couldn’t secure the rebound.

Notre Dame’s Nate Laszewski then hit a 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds remaining to give the Irish the win in what surely felt like a recurring nightmare for North Carolina. Over the past 10 days, the Tar Heels have suffered one heartbreaking loss after the next, starting with Duke on Feb. 8, another game in which they blew a big lead and lost on buzzer-beaters in regulation and overtime. On Saturday, North Carolina lost to Virginia after Tomas Woldetensae hit a 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds left to give the Cavaliers the win.

North Carolina is 1-6 in games decided by three points or fewer this season, and that’s tied for the most such losses in Division I this season. The Tar Heels have lost six straight, their longest losing streak since 2001-02. They play No. 11 Louisville on Saturday.

“You’ve got to be all-in, or you’ve got to leave,” Williams said. “Come on. It’s not the easiest thing in the world, but you’ve still got to compete. It’s frustrating, it makes you angry, and every little mistake you wonder why, but the bottom line is we’re going to play a game on Saturday and see what happens.”

If anyone can relate to Williams’ frustration this season, it’s Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw, who is also going through a rare losing season. Williams called McGraw last month to commiserate, and on Monday, McGraw posted on Twitter a photo of the two of them that went viral.

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