Monday night’s national title game was expected to be a fast-paced, competitive showcase for North Carolina forward Justin Jackson and Gonzaga point guard Nigel Williams-Goss, two of the best players in college this season.
It was certainly competitive, but with both teams’ tough defenses locking up the main offensive options, the game turned into a foul-laden slog rather than a shootout. The Tar Heels were able to pin their opponent in the end, 71-65, winning the school’s sixth national title.
Fittingly it was empty possessions by Gonzaga in the final minute that put the game away, as North Carolina ended the game on a 9-2 run.
With Jackson struggling — he shot 6-19 and missed nine three-pointers — junior point guard Joel Berry II stepped up, scoring 22 and hitting the UNC’s only four three-point shots, and was named the tourney’s most outstanding player. Forward Isaiah Hicks added 13 points and 10 rebounds.