Gut-wrenching end for Gonzaga

North Carolina coach Roy Williams and Gonzaga coach Mark Few

North Carolina pulled it off - they made it back to the national championship game and won!

For a whole year, the Tar Heels thought about what might have been. Excited we are national champions. Students and fans were electric when the team beat Gonzaga, 71 to 65.

This time, North Carolina found an ending it could live with just fine.

"I know we did nothing wrong", Williams said. The ups and downs that we've had, it's all worth it.

Turns out, maybe the junior point guard was just saving it all for one big moment: the chance to give North Carolina the national championship that had slipped so painfully away a year earlier.

"I don't think either team played really well", Williams said.

What ensued was a year of working harder, doing more, making sure That didn't happen again.

Berry was joined by teammates Kennedy Meeks and Justin Jackson. He clutched the ball and screamed near the sideline at University of Phoenix Stadium once the Tar Heels were assured of victory. Williams-Goss tried to lead the Zags back despite spraining his right ankle late in the game, but couldn't get the lift he needed to get off a shot with 16 second left. Television replays showed Meeks' hand was out of bounds. "I wasn't 100% but I gave it my all". "From my angle, it didn't look like an out-of-bounds situation or I would have called a review. That's tough to hear".

Through NCAA spokesman David Worlock, national coordinator of basketball officials JD Collins said the play was not reviewable. They went 15 for 26 from the line and, in many corners, this game will be remembered for these three men: Michael Stephens, Verne Harris and Mike Eades, the referees who called 27 fouls in the second half, completely busted up the flow of the game and sent Meeks, Gonzaga's Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins and a host of others to the bench in foul trouble.

As important as those shots were, they paled in comparison to the one he made with UNC clinging to a 66-65 lead with 25.3 seconds left on the clock.


Thank goodness for free throws. They brought steady cascades of boos from the crowd of 76,168, as fans from each side took turns protesting the whistles. "I think it was important to everybody". I swear to goodness, that's not what I'm thinking.

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

Jackson scored 22 points and made four of nine 3-pointers in the semifinal but his long-range shooting touch vanished Monday night, when he was 6-for-6 on 2-pointers but 0-for-9 on 3s.

Gonzaga's numbers were even worse — 20 for 59 for 33.9 percent.

Point guard Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga's leader, felt it after the Zags' 71-65 loss to North Carolina.

"We were negotiating through massive foul issues, ones that we haven't had all year", Few said. "But I'm hoping and knowing that perspective will come with time".

The first half was mostly dominated by Gonzaga, a school still searching for their first ever championship.

"At the end, when you're watching your kids jump around and the excitement, the thrill they have", Williams explained, "there's no better feeling in the world as a coach".

"They wanted redemption", Williams explained.

"I put it all out there tonight". "I knew I had a great group of guys here".

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