Tar Heels make best of second chance

North Carolina finds redemption, beats Gonzaga to win National Title

This is what should have happened after the game for those three men and their alternate: When they entered their locker room, black-and-white confetti should have fallen on them, but instead of hearing "One Shining Moment" they should have heard "Anticipation". We realize that many "ABC" (Anybody But Carolina") fans take about as much joy in the Monday victory as many Carolina fans took in Duke's championship win two years ago: "not much.

North Carolina made up for last year's title-decider heartbreak by putting together a late run to overhaul Gonzaga 71-65 in the final of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament on Monday. This resulted in both teams' big men struggling with foul troubles thus hindering each offense.

Hicks' heroics were followed by the big-time play of Meeks, who blocked the shot of Gonzaga's junior guard Nigel Williams-Goss that would have cut UNC's lead to a mere one point with 16 seconds left on the clock. Plus the team that led the nation in rebounding was outrebounded 49-46. The Bulldogs displayed their No. 1 defense by keeping their opponents to 14.8 percent from beyond the arc and 35.6 percent overall. The refs were taking heat on social media for calling a held ball, which gave possession to the Tar Heels, on a pile-up underneath the Carolina basket. Being constantly subbed on and off the court destroyed any rhythm for Gonzaga. Gonzaga forward Zach Collins (32) shoots over North Carolina forward Kennedy Meeks (3) during the first half in the finals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Monday, April 3, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz.

The season began with an easy win over Utah Valley on November 11 and the Zags rolled to victories in their first 29 games. Karnowski was 1 of 8 from the field for nine points.

With North Carolina leading by one with 26 seconds left in the game, Hicks' floater in the paint pushed UNC's lead to 68-65. But video of the scramble showed Meeks with his right hand out of bounds as he tried to snatch the ball from Melson. Settling into their game, Gonzaga appeared to shock UNC with their size and strength inside. North Carolina took advantage of Gonzaga's foul trouble, capitalizing in 40 points in the paint compared to the Bulldogs 18.

Berry's performance is far more impressive considering he was battling injuries in both ankles throughout the whole tournament.

Berry led all scorers with 22 points and added three rebounds, and six assists, finishing the night 7-of-19 from the field, including 4-of-13 from three-point range.

All in all, this year's NCAA Championship game topped off a historical run by each team.

It was the storied program's first since national title since the 2009. Williams has now surpassed his mentor, the late hall of fame coach Dean Smith, who won two titles at North Carolina.

Williams said that even if the Tar Heels don't go to the White House, it wouldn't necessarily be because of a political statement - using the first of his three national championship teams in 2005 as an example.



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