Redemption: Tar Heels take title over Gonzaga in ugly game

And it's not just limited to coaches and players. We can't get a delay and say, 'We're not ready.' You've got to play. The 6-foot-3 point guard is already 22-years old after transferring to Gonzaga from Washington after his sophomore season.

OR team manager Patrick Benson is interviewed by a reporter while his fellow managers look on and heckle him in the locker room at media day. From there, as the teams continued to trade points, the officials couldn't stop blowing the whistle.

Gonzaga head coach Mark Few talks to Jordan Mathews (4) during the second half in the finals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against North Carolina, Monday, April 3, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz.

As for Gonzaga; while the refs will be an easy scapegoat for fans, Bulldog players weren't crying because Zach Collins got a fourth foul early in the second half. "I thought they did a great job", Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. Williams-Goss led his team down the stretch; he was the Zags' only reliable source of offense before twisting his ankle with 1:25 to play.

Berry was shooting just 28 percent (17 of 60) in the first five tournament games for UNC (33-7), including 8 for 34 (24 percent) from 3-point range.

The newly crowned NCAA men's basketball champions?

In a game like this, every offensive rebound, every shot, every seemingly inconsequential second - all of it would count. North Carolina won 71-65.

A stumbling, blocked shot was perhaps the biggest difference between the Bulldogs and the Tar Heels on the night, the main dividing line between anguish and jubilation.

All of the game's key big men were in some sort of foul trouble in the second half.

The Tar Heels turned the extra possession into an inside hoop from Isaiah Hicks that made it 68-65 with 26 seconds left.

Gonzaga (37-2) missed nine consecutive shots in the second half and went 8:27 without a basket, but North Carolina (33-7) didn't have the offense to deliver a decisive run as it remained a one-possession game for nearly all of the second half.

Gonzaga led 35-32 at halftime, but North Carolina hit them hard after the break.

The Tar Heels will try to become the first team to reach three straight title games since Kentucky (1996-98) and the first to repeat since Florida in 2006 and 2007.

OR student fans stand deflated after losing to North Carolina 77-76 in the Final Four.

For a year now - nearly exactly to the day - all these North Carolina players wanted was a chance to redeem themselves, an opportunity to erase the heartbreak from last April's national championship game loss. He had zero field goals in two of the last three games, against West Virginia and SC. The three have been friends since freshman year at Gonzaga.

And North Carolina got over a hump that, at times this season, felt like a mountain.

Tournament MVP Joel Berry II takes in the moment after winning the national championship. And no one will care about that in Chapel Hill or points beyond, where the Tar Heels will celebrate their third NCAA championship of coach Roy Williams' tenure.

To a player, those with Gonzaga refused to blame the loss on calls, and you would hope the same level of class would have been shown by the Tar Heels had they lost.

  • Julie Sanders