Every angle will be pleasurable after North Carolina zipped past Gonzaga over the final 100 seconds of the national championship game Monday night, scoring the game's final eight points on the way to a 71-65 victory at University of Phoenix Stadium. It's UNC's sixth title and first since 2009.

Coach Roy Williams at least raised the possibility of whether Berry would be ready to play early in the week, though it seemed unlikely that the guy who might be the Tar Heels' toughest competitor wouldn't give it a go.

The contributions came from up and down the roster, as they have all season, in the three wins in Tallahassee. In their past three tournament games, they have held opponents to 34 per cent from the field and 24 per cent from three-point range. The Zags lost for only the second time in 39 games this season.

Center Przemek Karnowski, who shot just 1 of 8, picked up his fourth on a flagrant foul, mauling Berry with 8 minutes remaining. Gonzaga should have had the ball with a chance to take the lead. From there, as the teams continued to trade points, the officials couldn't stop blowing the whistle.

It was certainly competitive, but with both teams' tough defenses locking up the main offensive options, the game turned into a foul-laden slog rather than a shootout.

The Zags reached the big stage with the best team in Mark Few's 18 seasons, a mix of established players, talented transfers and a sterling recruiting class.

North Carolina and Gonzaga took the court for pregame warmups to boisterous cheers from their fan sections in the minutes leading up to the national championship game. And I think to be so close for us is a temporarily crushing blow right now.

The final push came from UNC. The Tar Heels made only 2 of 13 three-pointers before halftime. But upon further review, UNC forward Kennedy Meeks' hand was obviously out of bounds. That made it 70-65.

More news: Trump administration approves Keystone XL pipeline

Collins fouled out with 5:03 left and Karnowski was mostly ineffective, even before picking up his fourth foul. Meeks had a career game in the Final Four against OR with 25 points. Moments later, Williams-Goss twisted an ankle and could not elevate for a jumper that would've given the Bulldogs the lead.

Gonzaga isn't the out-of-nowhere, Cinderella story it used to be.

Gonzaga might have been the more popular choice across the country, but sometimes the victor has to wait a year. Both teams were in the bonus with 13 minutes left. Gonzaga, in its first Final Four after spending nearly two decades chugging up the mountaintop, is in the other.

Can Gonzaga 3-point ace Jordan Mathews be a shooting star?

"I don't know that we're going to get invited". So we did that.

SIEGEL: Well, what should we expect to see in tonight's final game, Gonzaga versus UNC? After scoring 17 points in a 1-vs-16 romp against Texas Southern to open the NCAA South Region, Hicks was averaging 12.5 points and 5.7 rebounds while shooting 61 percent from the field and almost 82 percent from the foul line.

"It's a long day, and you just want time to fly", said Hurley. "I feel like this is what we worked for". The ups and downs that we've had, it's all worth it. "I don't think either team played very well".


COMMENTS