Monday night was a new night.
North Carolina has three reserves averaging at least 5.0 points per game in the tournament. After the possession arrow favored North Carolina on a tie-up, Isaiah Hicks made a basket to push the lead to 68-65 with 27 seconds left. He missed the free throws at the end to put Carolina up three and was only bailed out by Kennedy Meeks' massive offensive rebound. On the previous two possessions, Williams-Goss had scored.
While Isaiah Hicks' bucket extended the Tar Heels' lead to three points and Kennedy Meeks' block and dish to Jackson sealed the deal, Jackson's initial bucket was the game-changer that North Carolina needed to put the pesky Zags away for good.
"I think both teams knew", Theo Pinson said. It's all about the next thing. I'm so blessed that my family got to witness this.
The story of the game ended up being the referees.
Berry got called for a foul while stripping the ball from Karnowski's hands.
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Monday night, he played just 14 minutes due to foul trouble.
The title game that has always been called the ugliest was Connecticut's 53-41 win over Butler in 2011. "I should have told you I would think about it afterwards because I didn't want to jinx myself". I swear to goodness, that's not what I'm thinking. No matter how many NCAA championships the North Carolina coach wins, no matter what the record book says, Williams will never see himself as measuring up to his former boss, longtime mentor and dear friend.
"He's such a warrior, he blew out his ankle and was still able to get to his shot", Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.
"It started in '99 when they went to the Elite Eight and we just kept - the Zags keep breaking that ceiling". They wouldn't stop blowing their whistles until they had called 27 second half fouls and 44 total.
Williams, 66, grew up in North Carolina and was on the university's junior varsity team.
But Hicks finally found the rhythm down the stretch. The Zags led 35-32 at the half and had the Tar Heels on the ropes.
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"That may be the way it's perceived", Williams said Sunday.
"So nobody made me aware of it or I certainly would have within the last minute there or 2 minutes", he said. "And I think that that was just a youngster willing the ball in the hole, because he had stunk it up for the last couple of weeks most of the time".
Josh Perkins was averaging 5.2 points and shooting 34.8 percent from the floor in the first five games of the NCAA tournament, but his play buoyed Gonzaga in the first half, scoring 13 points - more than he's scored in any game since February 23rd, a total he eclipsed just twice since Christmas - and helping Gonzaga jump out to an early nine-point lead, but the Zags, overall, did not play all that well in the first 20 minutes. Sports fans accept this and are generally prepared to deal with it, but it was easy to lose patience during last night's championship game due to the officiating crew's insistence on muddying up the court. "I've got three because of these guys right here".
Berry said the injuries were affecting the lift on his shot, and it showed against the Ducks. They won because Karnowski played badly and because Collins was in constant foul trouble (still not even sure two of his five fouls were legit).
There were a lot of really bad calls, especially the fourth foul on Collins, but two stood out as the worst. He had only seven points Monday, but collected 10 rebounds and helped shut down Gonzaga's vaunted frontcourt.
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