Thursday, 27 April, 2017

Tar Heels win 6th national championship with win over Gonzaga

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Warren Dawson | 05 April, 2017, 02:54

"I wanted to see this confetti fall on us and we're the winners", said Carolina's Joel Berry II, who led the Heels with 22 points.

If you watched any part of last night's NCAA Championship game between Gonzaga and UNC, or followed the game at all on social media, you already know that the refs were downright brutal.

Berry, along with most of Roy Williams' players, returned for another run.

They weren't fazed by their lone loss of the regular season, and took advantage of a path to the national championship that featured a matchup with an 11 seed in the Elite Eight and a seven seed in the Final Four. With a little less than two minutes remaining here, the Bulldogs led by two points after Nigel Williams-Goss' jumper from near the top of the key.

"I had no idea", Gonzaga coach Mark Few said after the game. "I can't even describe my feeling right now, but I'm just glad that I was able to do something with this team because I felt like, just the personality and what we went through, and I think we just deserved it". "I've got three because of these guys right here".

North Carolina's Joel Berry II was named the Final Four's Most Outstanding Player after he led all scorers with 22 points and chipped in six assists. The Tar Heels get their sixth NCAA championship in school history Monday night which puts them third all-time behind UCLA and Kentucky.

It was certainly competitive, but with both teams' tough defenses locking up the main offensive options, the game turned into a foul-laden slog rather than a shootout.

Both teams have size in the middle and quality depth at the position. Somehow, Collins was the only player to foul out.

Gonzaga's Przemek Karnowski never got in the flow of the game and finished with 9 points and four fouls. But as Karnowski flailed after the ball, he was called for a flagrant foul after grabbing Berry around the neck.

That resulted in four straight free throws, a 52-all tie and booing from every corner of the massive University of Phoenix Stadium.

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"Those were three of the best officials in the entire country, in the National Basketball Association or college". It set up the Hicks layup to put Carolina ahead by three. It appears Kennedy Meeks hand was out of bounds when he was jockeying for the ball.

“That was probably on me, ” Few said. The feeling of inadequacy past year in the locker room is one of the worst feelings I've ever had. "That's tough to hear".

Gonzaga sophomore guard Josh Perkins, whose season high was 18 points, led the Bulldogs with 13 points before halftime.

Williams becomes the first coach to win three titles at his alma mater.

North Carolina hit just 36 per cent from the field.

"But it was an ugly game because two teams really wanted it badly and the other team wasn't going to allow them to have easy things", Williams said. "It's about time. I think we've earned this one".

Gonzaga's program-defining run to the national championship game ended in a flurry of whistles and missed shots. Collins committed his fourth foul with 15:53 left. The 44 total fouls called were the most in a title game since 2009.

Josh Perkins was averaging 5.2 points and shooting 34.8 percent from the floor in the first five games of the NCAA tournament, but his play buoyed Gonzaga in the first half, scoring 13 points - more than he's scored in any game since February 23rd, a total he eclipsed just twice since Christmas - and helping Gonzaga jump out to an early nine-point lead, but the Zags, overall, did not play all that well in the first 20 minutes.

The sixth title moves North Carolina ahead of rival Duke and IN for third-most all time, trailing only UCLA (11) and Kentucky (eight). Like stop Isaiah Hicks from scoring during the extra possession to give the Tar Heels a 68-65 lead with 26 seconds left.

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