Missed out-of-bounds call aides Tar Heels in final minute
- Author: Julie Sanders Apr 05, 2017,
Apr 05, 2017, 11:12
The University of North Carolina beat Gonzaga 71-65 for the NCAA men's basketball national championship.
North Carolina's two best players on Monday night?
North Carolina turned a free-throw shooting contest into its sixth national championship, washing away a year's worth of heartache.
(AP Photo/David J. Phillip). Only five players have grabbed more rebounds in a single tournament during the expanded bracket era, and all of them became NBA Draft lottery picks: Nick Collison of Kansas (81), Larry Johnson of UNLV (75), Thomas Robinson of Kanas (75), Anthony Davis of Kentucky (74), and Derrick Coleman of Syracuse (73). After Gonzaga's Przemek Karnowski knocked a rebound loose from Kennedy Meeks, the Zags' Killian Tillie wound up in a tussle for the ball with Meeks. I really don't. But I know one thing: "We're putting up a nice banner in the Smith Center that's hard to get". "We put in the work and we were right there, good enough to win a national championship". "I'm a pretty big person so to say I can hide behind someone is a lot, but I hid behind whoever it was in front of me and I got the steal and I tried to kick it up the court as fast as I could". Eighteen years after they caught the basketball world's collective eye with a Cinderella run to the Elite Eight, the Bulldogs' dream season came up one game short. The Bulldogs spent four weeks at No. 1 and are the top-ranked team in Ken Pomeroy's college basketball ratings.
Justin Jackson delivered the go-ahead three-point play and the University of North Carolina scored the final eight points for a 71-65 win over Gonzaga and a title that eluded them a year ago.
"Probably on me", said Gonzaga coach Mark Few, whose first knowledge of the call came in the postgame press conference. "It was just a dream come true and I was elated for them".
For the Ducks, top players Dillon Brooks, Tyler Dorsey and Jordan Bell have decisions to make on whether to return - and that could determine whether OR can take another step after reaching an Elite Eight in 2016 and reaching this year's national semifinals.
Some of the culprits: Berry led the Tar Heels with 22 points but needed 19 shots to get there. In UNC's 77-76 semifinal win over OR on Saturday, he only had two points on 1-of-12 shooting from the field. "But, you know, that's just the way it goes". Berry, playing with two sprained ankles, went 2-for-14 against Oregon. Josh Perkins added 13 points.
Also done is Mathews, a graduate transfer from California who was outstanding in his lone season as a Zag.
Villanova won the 2016 national championship on Kris Jenkins' last-second 3-pointer, then carried the No. 1 overall seed into this year's tournament before being upset by Wisconsin in the second round.
"We broke the glass ceiling everybody said we couldn't get over", Mathews said.
A big question is whether Collins will return for his sophomore year. Karnowski, Nigel Williams-Goss and Jordan Mathews - the Bulldogs' three leading scorers for the season - combined to make just eight of 32 from the field. Many have suggested he may be a one-and-done player.
While their shooting left plenty to be desired, especially from the free-throw line where the Tar Heels hit just 15 of 26 in the foul-filled final, they did managed to avoid giving the Bulldogs any easy points of their own.
"They wanted redemption", Williams explained. He has been mum about his future, but it seems unlikely that he would have sat out an entire season to play only one season with the Zags.