Up by 12 points with just over eight minutes left, the game slipped away and Tennessee prevailed, 56-50, in Sunday's national semifinal game.
UNC held the Vols to 27.0% shooting and forced 21 turnovers, but the Heels committed 29 turnovers of their own and star seniors Ivory Latta and Camille Little were limited by foul trouble.
"I'm sorry," Latta told the N&O postgame. "I'm just sorry because I felt like we should have won. I had the shot to tie the game and I just couldn't knock it down."
The Heels finished the season at 34-3.
March 27: Next stop - Final Four!
For the second straight year, the Tar Heels are headed to the Final Four. Led by 29 points and 10 rebounds from Erlana Larkins, UNC took care of Purdue, 84-72, on Tuesday night.
"It was an amazing night," Larkins told the Herald-Sun after the postgame celebration. "It's a great feeling."
It'll be North Carolina vs. Tennessee on Sunday in Cleveland. Tip time is set for 9 p.m. on ESPN.
"We're more focused on winning the first game, especially," LaToya Pringle told the N&O. "We have the outlook that we've been there and done that. We just want to make it to the championship game and put ourselves into a position to win."
Get your official Final Four Locker Room Ts at Johnny T-shirt!
March 25: Carolina controlled the game from the opening tip and dispatched George Washington, 70-56, in Sunday's Sweet 16 game.
LaToya Pringle had a team-high 16 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks. The story of the game was on the boards, where the Heels outrebounded the Colonials, 45-22.
"We're happy to be where we are, but we know we have our work cut out for us," Coach Hatchell said afterwards.
Next up is an Elite Eight matchup with Purdue on Tuesday at 9 p.m. on ESPN.
March 20: *Exhale* - The Tar Heels trailed 41-33 in the second half before putting together a 15-0 run to avoid the upset tonight against Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament's second round.
"Survive and advance," Coach Hatchell said postgame. "We learned a lot from this, and hopefully it will make us a better team."
Ivory Latta had 17 points and LaToya Pringle hauled in 11 rebounds.
"This game right here let me know that my team stays together through hard times," Latta told reporters.
Next up is the Sweet 16, where the Heels will face George Washington on Sunday at 9 p.m.
March 18: First round, no problem. The Tar Heels dispatched Prairie View A&M, 95-38, in their NCAA Tournament opener Sunday. Coach Hatchell had 11 players play double-digit minutes and used a balanced attack to jump out to a 24-4 lead that turned into a 57-15 halftime score.
"We don't take anyone lightly," said Camille Little, who along with Jessica Breland, had a co-game-high 14 points.
Next up is No. 9 seed Notre Dame on Tuesday.
March 13: For the third straight year North Carolina is a No. 1 seed. The Tar Heels are in the Dallas Region and play Prairie View in their first round game Sunday in Pittsburgh - tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. on ESPN. (link: click here for the bracket)
"We expected to be [a No. 1 seed], " said he adochac Sylvia Hatchell. "We got a good draw, a whole lot better than last year. Hopefully we can keep our momentum going from winning the ACC Tournament."
That ACC Tournament title, won back on March 4, seems like a long time ago.
"We've been practicing for a week and some change now," Ivory Latta said. "We're ready to go."