North Carolina downs Gonzaga, 71-65, for NCAA national championship

The Tar Heels rattled of eight consecutive points to take a 40-35 lead and please former Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak, who cheered his alma mater from his seat in the North Carolina fan section.

The free throw made it 66-65, and after a Gonzaga miss on the other end, Isaiah Hicks made a shot to help North Carolina start pulling away to the school's sixth title.

North Carolina's Kennedy Meeks (3), tg24n= and Silas Melson battle for a loose ball during the second half in the finals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Monday, April 3, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. The Bulldogs shot 33 percent in losing their first title-game appearance.

North Carolina overcame the memory of last year's buzzer-beating loss to Villanova in the title game, surging to victory in this year's national championship. They needed every one of the 17 offensive boards they got in the semis against OR, and their 15 in the title game helped them quiet frequent charges from Gonzaga, especially in the second half.

The Tar Heels were in the title game past year and lost on a buzzer-beater to Villanova. It also marks the third won by head coach Roy Williams since taking over the program in 2003. The Bulldogs' Zach Collins-the hero of a Final Four win over South Carolina-fouled out with 5:03 to go after playing only 14 minutes.

Since the inside didn't provide answers to a takeover run, both teams were forced to go outside and the Tar Heels were amazingly able to win shooting just 4 for 27 (14.8 percent) from 3-point range.

Nigel Williams-Goss scored 15 for Gonzaga and gave them the lead with a hoop with 1:55 to play.

Berry, who scored 22 points on 7-of-19 shooting, was named Most Outstanding Player.

For the past year, they'd often spoken of their hope of reaching this point, the final Monday night of the college basketball season.

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Przemek Karnowski, Gonzaga's 7-foot-1, 300-pound wall of a center, had to dance around foul trouble most of the second half as well, leaving Gonzaga unable to effectively initiate its inside-out game. But as Karnowski was flailing after the ball, he grabbed Berry around the neck and, after a long delay, got called for a flagrant foul of his own.

That resulted in four straight free throws, a 52-all tie and booing from every corner of the massive University of Phoenix Stadium.

"I think it was good for the Zags to get to the national championship game", Williams-Goss said.

Indeed, North Carolina did just enough down the stretch to emerge on top. So I don't think either team ever got in a real good flow.

"They called it the redemption tour and I think that was a good name because it was heartbreaking previous year", said Jim Kitchen. And I felt like we did that tonight.

“That was probably on me, ” Few said.

But the real redemption isn't so much from winning the game but from a rotten first half that saw UNC shoot poorly from everywhere yet only trail Gonzaga by three at intermission.

North Carolina shot 34 percent from the field in the foul-riddled championship game, Gonzaga 36 percent.

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