Tar Heels take title over Gonzaga in ugly game

Redemption Tar Heels take NCAA title 71-65 over Gonzaga

A year after losing on the first buzzer-beating three in NCAA men's basketball championship history, the Tar Heels are back on top, defeating Gonzaga 71-65 at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, in front of a crowd of 76,168. Hicks found himself with the ball and North Carolina draining clock holding a one-point lead over Gonzaga and less than 30 seconds remaining.

The Tar Heels (33-7) followed a terrible-shooting night in the semifinal with an equally ice-cold performance in the final - going 4 for 27 from 3-point land and 26 for 73 overall.

After Meeks was the first player with 25 points and 10 rebounds in a Final Four game since Greg Oden (2007) in UNC's matchup against Oregon, Meeks scored a subpar 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting from the field, but pulled down 10 rebounds to set a new single-tournament record on the glass with 69 over the course of six games.

North Carolina's Joel Berry II (2) celebrates after the finals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against Gonzaga, Monday, April 3, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz.

Nigel Williams-Goss had a team-high 15 points for the Bulldogs. Karnowski went for 1-8 overall and failed to make shots that he would normally make.

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Gonzaga (37-2) missed nine consecutive shots in the second half and went 8:27 without a basket, but North Carolina (33-7) didn't have the offense to deliver a decisive run as it remained a one-possession game for nearly all of the second half. "I don't think either team played very well".

Both of Berry's parents are still connected to Lake Highland, and Vallery said Highlanders nation is ecstatic with his success. Williams coached in his 100th NCAA Tournament game; he is 76-24.

"You know, our president tweets out more bullshit than anybody I've ever seen", he said.

Zach Collins, a 7-foot freshman, backs up Karnowski and he had 14 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks against SC in the national semifinal.

But the real redemption isn't so much from winning the game but from a rotten first half that saw UNC shoot poorly from everywhere yet only trail Gonzaga by three at intermission.

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"He's such a warrior, he blew out his ankle and was still able to get to his shot", Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.

An unwatchable game turned into a attractive night for the Tar Heels, who turned a free-throw contest into a championship they've been waiting an entire year to celebrate. "And I tried to be more positive and I told them, previous year we were ahead at halftime and the other team came out more focused than we did".

A flurry of whistles and missed shots left them one step short. The possession arrow pointed North Carolina's way, so the Tar Heels kept the ball and made a two-point basket with the extra possession to take a three-point lead.

But in the span of 40 minutes, two players encapsulated everything UNC has done this year - Berry and Isaiah Hicks. "I told them don't worry about what the referee is doing, he missed a call, but, my God, we missed four free throws in a row, missed layups". They called all manner of touch fouls and off-the-ball fouls and generally killed any attempt by either side to go on a run. "My teammates said just keep on pushing".

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