Tar Heels find redemption with national championship

Redemption Tar Heels take NCAA title 71-65 over Gonzaga

It's UNC's sixth title and first since 2009.

UNC head coach Roy Williams had five national title games' worth of experience coming into the night.

"They wanted redemption", coach Roy Williams explained.

"Forget the victory and the significance of the moment for champion North Carolina and national runner-up Gonzaga, because we must start with this: Monday night's national championship game - beset by an abundance of foul calls, poor offense and a sleep-inducing rhythm - stunk". The Bulldogs went on an 11-4 run to take an impressive 21-14 lead through the midway point of the opening half.

The drama was high for the entire second half as the score remained tight, but boy was there some poor basketball being played (and officiated) all around. From there, as the teams continued to trade points, the officials couldn't stop blowing the whistle. There were 27 fouls called in the second half, compared to 17 in the first.

"I had no idea", Gonzaga coach Mark Few said after the game.

There were long field goal droughts, when Few's team seemingly couldn't buy a basket. "I don't think I should be mentioned in the same sentence with him".

"So for me, I felt like God was calling me to come back here", he continued.

Like so many times before during this long postseason run - like against Arkansas in the second round, and against Kentucky in the South Regional final, and against OR here on Saturday night in a national semifinal - UNC survived. With no timeouts, Gonzaga was finished.

It was the kind of stat line few could have predicted based on his dismal stat line against OR - but teammate Kennedy Meeks did.




North Carolina (33-7) was led by Joel Berry II, who was named the outstanding player of the Final Four. Forward Isaiah Hicks added 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Nigel Williams-Goss scored 15 for Gonzaga and gave them the lead with a hoop with 1:55 to play.

Karnowski had nine points on 1-of-8 shooting.

The Roman Catholic university in Spokane, Washington, emerged as a Cinderella team in 1999, reaching the Elite Eight before losing to eventual champion CT.

Gonzaga's 19th consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament ended as all the others had before it, with a crushing defeat.

The Bulldogs finish with a season record of 37-2, with the only other loss coming in their regular season finale against BYU on February 25. He joined Carmelo Anthony as the only players with a 25-14 game in the Final Four in the past 20 years.

For most of the first half of Monday's game, Gonzaga - making the school's first appearance in the Final Four - seemed to be playing to their strengths - and North Carolina's.

When Monday night's slugfest with Gonzaga came to a merciful end, the Heels had all their answers: The national title was theirs, the nets were hanging around their necks, the redemption tour was a success. Gonzaga senior guard Jordan Matthews said. We're talking about a guy who averaged 18.3 points per game here and shot 38 percent from behind the arc. Berry had his best game of the tournament, finally looking free of the ankle issues that had dogged him from the opener. So we did that. So we were at fault just as much as anybody else. "I have no doubt in the future, there will be future Zags that get over this hump".

"It's just an unbelievable feeling", Berry said.

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