Jim Hawkins/Inside Carolina

UNC's Joel Berry Records Career High

Sophomore had 21 points in Saturday night's loss at Virginia.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Joel Berry II had a career night in UNC’s 79-74 loss to Virginia Saturday night, scoring a career-high 21 points on 8-15 shooting, including a career-best 5-9 from the 3-point line.

“He was making shots, it always helps when you make shots,” said Marcus Paige. “We were able to find him in transition a couple of times, he hit some threes.”

It took Berry nearly 20 minutes to realize what kind of a night he was in for, but when he did, his focus shifted to remaining consistent.

“Once I got the third three towards the end of the half, I knew that I was feeling pretty good,” said Berry after the game. “It was going in, and I just tried to keep it going.”

The shot he was referring to led to an important first-half momentum shift. With 54 seconds remaining before halftime, Berry came around a screen by Paige at the top of the key and drained a 3-pointer. And 30 seconds later, after a Virginia miss, Paige launched a skip pass to a wide-open Berry in the right corner, where Berry again knocked down a triple.

“I think it helped us out a lot, just because we were down quite a bit, maybe eight, so I hit those shots and we made it a 3-point game,” said Berry. “That gave us some confidence, and we were still in the game, so it was good for us.

“I just tried to get us back in the game, I’m not a player that’s all about myself, but the ball was in my hand and I was wide open, so I just tried to knock the shot down,” said Berry. “It wasn’t necessarily me trying to force anything, but I had the wide open shots.”

Berry plays his best ball when he’s the attacker, which Paige attributed to the sophomore’s big night.

“He was aggressive,” said Paige. “He was attacking the basket, drawing a lot of contact.”

Berry drew plenty of contact on drives, but never made it to the free throw line against Virginia.

“I just try to play through (contact), but I can’t dictate what the refs want to call,” said Berry. “It’s something you can complain about, but at the end of the day, you’ve just got to move onto the next play and live with it.”

Despite whistles not going his way, Berry stated that he wouldn’t let it change his game.

“I’m gonna continue to be aggressive, because sooner or later, they’re gonna call it,” said Berry. “They can’t just let that just keep on going on throughout the game.”

Inside Carolina Top Stories