Gonzaga versus UNC tonight was a back forth game for the whole 60 minutes. The first half from a spectators standpoint was all Gonzaga and on the stat sheet Gonzaga was dominating, yet they only entered half up 3 points. From that moment on I knew Gonzaga was screwed. How did they beat UNC at their own game dominating them in the paint, out rebounding them, getting deep into the post every possession, and you only lead by three. To make matters worse UNC shot a season low 31% from the field for the half. If you can't build a lead while the opponent is playing god awful how can you expect to win. Gonzaga would continue to grind and fight though like they have all season and North Carolina looked to get back to the way they know how to play and win.
The first 15 minutes of the second half were pure garbage. Fouls back and forth, which has to be expected when both teams are powerful inside. When you have big bodies against big bodies pounding away inside for the majority of possessions there's going to be a lot of contact leading to a lot of foul calls. Unfortunately, this really slowed down the pace of the game, which in turn totally took the players out of any type of rhythm leading to the horrible shooting performances from virtually everyone. People tend to blame the referees for this happening and always say let the kids play, but then complain the second a close foul call isn't called. Some people are never satisfied and fuck those people, just enjoy the damn game. Gonzaga went on a huge cold streak in the second half not making a field goal in what felt like almost the entire first 15 minutes of the second half. Gonzaga made 5 field goals total in the first 15 minutes of the second half and that explained the Carolina lead going into the final stretch.
Despite Gonzaga being dreadful offensively in the second half Carolina was only able to manage a 2 point lead heading into the final five minutes of the game. At this point both teams have had stretches of being dominate on the glass, neutralizing one another in that aspect. As for scoring inside the arc Carolina was better than Gonzaga at finishing in the paint. Don't get me wrong Karnowski had about 10 shots from 3 feet and he missed all but one, so the ball just wasn't falling for the Zags inside. The Zags would make up for it by shooting a nice percentage from deep, essentially keeping them in the game. Both teams had been getting to the free throw line with regularity, but neither of them could take advantage. Joel Berry carried the UNC offense for the majority of the game with Justin Jackson struggling mightily offensively all game long. Gonzaga was very balanced scoring the ball having 5 guys with 9 points or more. Zags-UNC after all that were tied up at 63 a piece with two minutes to play.
With two minutes to play Gonzaga took the early lead going up by two after Williams-Goss hit a beautiful bank shot jumper over a Carolina defender. Carolina came right down the floor gave the ball to their star Justin Jackson, despite his horrible offensive performance the majority of the game, he came up big finishing an and one layup, putting the Tar Heels up by 1. Williams-Goss missed a jumper on the other end to try to take the lead. Carolina goes down the floor took a 3 that missed Meeks rebounded, Karnowski stripped it, and Meeks and two Gonzaga players dove to the floor for the ball. Meeks had a hand clearly out of bounds, so it should've been Gonzaga ball. Refs didn't see it though, Carolina ball. Carolina inbounds, stalls until late in the shot clock, and then gets a huge layup from Isaiah Hicks with 21.9 seconds to go as Carolina leads by 3. Williams-Goss tried to answer quickly on the other end but was stuffed by Kennedy Meeks who then passed it ahead to Justin Jackson for the game sealing dunk. UNC wins the National Championship over Gonzaga 71-65. The redemption tour for North Carolina is complete.
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Djack- Chief editor