North Carolina claimed the 2016-17 National Championship on Monday night, defeating Gonzaga, 71-65, at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — North Carolina didn’t let last year’s heartbreaking loss to Villanova bother it all season. And it didn’t fret over trailing at halftime to Gonzaga on Monday night.
The Tar Heels put the image of last year’s buzzer-beating defeat in the national championship game out of their heads, stormed to their second straight final and knocked off the Bulldogs, 71-65, at University of Phoenix Stadium to claim the national title.
North Carolina trailed 35-32 at halftime after shooting just 30.6 percent – including 2 of 13 from 3-point range – but it began the final 20 minutes with an 8-0 run to take its first lead since early in the first half. Justin Jackson had an off night and finished 6 of 19 from the field and 0 of 9 from 3-point range while scoring 16 points. However, Joel Berry II picked up the slack with 23 points to help the Tar Heels stay in the game.
The second half was littered with foul calls that slowed the pace and had both teams in the bonus with roughly 14 minutes remaining. Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks ended the game with four fouls apiece.
But it was Hicks who had the biggest moment for the Tar Heels, gliding in with a one-handed runner to put them up by three with 21.9 seconds remaining. Gonzaga’s turnover on the ensuing possession led to a fastbreak dunk for Jackson, putting the finishing touches on North Carolina’s national championship.
The title is the third for coach Roy Williams.