North Carolina fights off Gonzaga, wins sixth title

After the North Carolina Tar Heels defeated the Gonzaga Bulldogs 71-65 to claim their sixth NCAA title Monday night, Roy Williams said he wasn't sure if he will take his team to the White House - or if they'll even be invited.

However, for the North Carolina Tar Heels got attractive redemption and avenged their buzzer beater loss in the title game past year versus Villanova.

Yes, the Zags were hurt by some iffy whistles: The fourth foul on Zach Collins was a figment of a zebra's fevered imagination, and the tie-up with 49.1 seconds left - the play that allowed Carolina, due to alternating possession, to keep the ball for what would become Isaiah Hicks' vital banker - should have been Gonzaga's ball.

"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.

Hicks finished the night with 13 points and nine rebounds, his first game scoring in double-digits since UNC's first round game against No.16 Texas Southern when he scored 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field.

North Carolina's Kennedy Meeks places his right hand outside of the line as Meeks and Gonzaga's Silas Melson (0) battle for a loose ball during the second half in the finals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament.

Nigel Williams-Goss had a team-high 15 points for the Bulldogs. At one point, with seven minutes left in the half, the two teams had combined to shoot 11-for-42 from the floor. Williams-Goss was slashing through the Tar Heel D and finding open teammates. "A great ballgame", Gonzaga coach Mark Few called it, lying through his teeth.

"One of the things we had to be tonight was tough enough".

The North Carolina Tar Heels are the 2017 NCAA men's basketball national champions!

Kennedy Meeks, the man in the middle for North Carolina, finished with 7 points, four fouls and a huge blocked shot.

The break seemed to settle Gonzaga's players, as they scored the next eight points to take a 43-40 lead.

North Carolina's two victories in the Final Four came by a combined seven points, the smallest margin for a championship team since MI in 1989.

Karnowski struggled against North Carolina's length, missing numerous shots at the rim to finish with nine points on 1-of-8 shooting.

"We came out here and we competed", Berry said. I'm so blessed that my family got to witness this. Williams coached in his 100th NCAA Tournament game; he is 76-24.

Monday night's big win for the UNC Tar Heels brings a renewed sense of pride, and that ignited a flurry of fans that numbered well into the thousands to vent in jubilation over the victory against Gonzaga. A steal on the first possession led to an all-alone layup by Berry, and Jackson's two free throws gave North Carolina the lead 35 seconds into the half.

As is so often the case, the officials may have made a bad call that affected the game, but the team that lost had opportunities to change the outcome. "I think this group was tough enough".

Wrong call. Meeks right hand was clearly out of bounds during the scramble. "They came into the game as a good team with taking care of the ball".

  • Larry Hoffman