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Heels Hang On For Title

April 6, 2017

It was sweet revenge for North Carolina. One year after advancing to the NCAA Finals and falling just short due to a buzzer-beating shot by Villanova’s Kris Jenkins, the Tar Heels avenged that defeat with a win over Gonzaga, 71-65, on Monday to capture their sixth national title.

North Carolina, a number-one seed, returned many of the players who left the court devastated a year ago in Houston. But at University of Phoenix Stadium, they could finally bask in the confetti that rained down from the rafters. In fact, many of the players spoke of how basking in the Finals confetti motivated them throughout the long season.

Outside the state of North Carolina, the Heels were basically taking on the entire country. Gonzaga was clearly the sentimental choice being the small Jesuit school in Spokane, Washington, that was making its first appearance in the Final Four and had never won an NCAA championship in any team sport. Conversely, Carolina making Final Four appearances is becoming routine.

NC Tar Heels, friends and staff celebrate the victory

I spoke last week of how even the Final Four teams were, and how we could have a classic like last year’s Finals. But the referees took over and called an abundance of fouls which led to a sloppily played game. The same referees also seemed to miss several calls in the second half.

North Carolina cleaned things up late as it scored the game’s final eight points that was keyed by the defense holding the Zags scoreless down the stretch. With Gonzaga down three points with 22 seconds left, Nigel Williams-Goss drove the lane but was blocked by Kennedy Meeks of the Heels. A quick outlet and a dunk by Justin Jackson and Carolina had its title.

North Carolina got 22 points from Joel Berry II, but as a team shot badly (36 percent). Berry, the Final Four MVP, was the only Tar Heel to sink a three-pointer: he had four of them. Gonzaga also struggled, shooting 34 percent from the field.

Critics recently have questioned the toughness of Roy Williams’ coached teams. That talk needs to end as this season’s team showed mental toughness in late minutes of games. Especially during this year’s NCAA Tournament.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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