North Carolina Tar Heels Beat Gonzaga Bulldogs for NCAA Championship

North Carolina Tar Heels Beat Gonzaga Bulldogs for NCAA Championship

The North Carolina Tar Heels used a strong second half to beat the Gonzaga Bulldogs 71-65 and win the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship

After falling short last season, the North Carolina Tar Heels made sure to come back with a vengeance in this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship match. North Carolina finished an amazing season with a well-deserved 71-65 win over the Gonzaga Bulldogs. Justin Jackson capped a superb second half for the Tar Heels with a go-ahead 3-point play with 1:40 left. Aside from Jackson’s 16 points, UNC also got a boost from junior Joel Berry II who had 22 points. The Bulldogs boasted more balanced scoring led by Nigel Williams-Goss’ 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists. Unfortunately, a relatively poor showing on offense in the second half spelled doom for the Zags.

Gonzaga takes a close lead at the half

The first half featured everything that fans loved about NCAA championship games. While both teams played great defense, it was Gonzaga’s offense that dictated the pace in the half. Nigel Williams-Goss did a great job running the Bulldogs’ offense and ended the half with 5 assists and 6 points. The star of the half for the Bulldogs though was Josh Perkins and his 13 points. Another area that the Zags managed to dominate was the paint. Led by Przemek Karnowski’s 5 rebounds, Gonzaga managed to limit second chance opportunities for a Tar Heels team that was missing its shots early and often.

Despite their struggles on offense though, the North Carolina Tar Heels still kept the game close with their defense. Offensively, UNC had to rely on Joel Berry II who finished the half with 9 points. Helping Berry out was fellow junior Justin Jackson who managed 6 points on a variety of drives to the basket. Other than these two, Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks also put up quality minutes for the Tar Heels frontline. Hicks finished the half with 5 points and 3 rebounds while Meeks had 5 rebounds and 4 points. Unfortunately, these efforts weren’t enough to stop Gonzaga’s well-oiled machine from ending the half with a 35-32 advantage.

The North Carolina Tar Heels turn up the defense in the second half

When the second half came, things finally started to go in the direction the North Carolina Tar Heels wanted. Joel Berry again came up big for UNC as he managed to score 13 of the team’s 39 points in the half. Aside from Berry, Justin Jackson also came up with big buckets and finished the half with 10 points. The most important of these points were scored on a 3-point play with 1:40 left in the clock that gave UNC a crucial 66-65 lead. After this, the Zags found themselves struggling to score as the Tar Heels defense forced Nigel Williams-Goss to miss a jumper. A couple of plays after this, Isaiah Hicks connected on a jumper that gave UNC a 68-65 lead with 27 seconds remaining. Jackson and Berry then finished off the game with a dunk and a made free throw respectively for the 71-65 final score.

Defense wins championships

While this statement might seem like a cliche, it is true that the North Carolina Tar Heels wouldn’t have won without their defense. Consider this, Justin Jackson had to put up 19 shots in order to get his 16 points. And while Joel Berry managed 22 points, he had to put up 19 shots as well. Were it not for the team’s tenacity to get offensive rebounds and defend the post, we’d be seeing the Zags cutting down the nets. Another commendable aspect of their defense was how they limited Przemek Karnowski. Yes, the Gonzaga center managed 9 points and 9 rebounds but he was 1 of 8 from the field. More importantly, he only played 29 minutes thanks to foul trouble.

North Carolina makes history

With the win, the North Carolina Tar Heels now hold the distinction of being the only school to win NCAA Championships in 4 consecutive decades. In addition, UNC has moved up as the third winningest school in NCAA history with its 6 championships.


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