CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- Dexter Strickland hit the go-ahead free throws with 2:34 left and North Carolina held William & Mary scoreless for the final 5 minutes in the Tar Heels' 80-72 win in the first round of the NIT on Tuesday night.
Deon Thompson scored 20 points to lead the Tar Heels (17-16), the reigning national champions who found themselves in the NIT for the first time in seven years after a disappointing season. But they weathered a flurry of 3-pointers from the Tribe to ensure they would finish at least .500.
Tyler Zeller added 13 points for the fourth-seeded Tar Heels, who advanced to the second round to face the Jackson State-Mississippi State winner.
David Schneider scored 21 points on seven 3-pointers for the fifth-seeded Tribe (22-11), who shot 16 for 43 from behind the arc and nearly eliminated North Carolina.
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