Thursday, 27 April, 2017

Despite 2 bad ankles, Berry named outstanding player

Craig Ferguson | 05 April, 2017, 02:44

North Carolina head coach Roy Williams is interviewed as his team celebrate after the finals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against Gonzaga, Mon., April 3, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz.

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — For a whole year, the North Carolina Tar Heels wondered if they'd get another chance.

"I mean, how many teams would take 37-2, league champs, national runner-up?"

Their 71-65 win will not be mistaken for a work of art.

On Monday, North Carolina was out-rebounded for just the fourth time all season.

"I wasn't trying to sell it or anything", Berry said. The ups and downs that we've had, it's all worth it.

After the game, Zags coach Mark Few acknowledged that losing so closely was a "temporarily crushing blow". From there, Gonzaga unraveled - Nigel Williams-Goss got blocked, and North Carolina turned the rebound into a fast-break dunk for Justin Jackson.

The Tar Heels, whose student section was made larger by ASU's students who were given tickets, did put the clamps on the Gonzaga perimeter game in the second half and took the lead for good with 1:40 left. The Bulldogs limited Meeks to one offensive rebound in the first half, which qualified as a victory considering he had grabbed eight during the Tar Heels' semifinal victory over Oregon. The problem was that photos of the play show Meeks' hand on the end line while he had his other arm around the ball. "I wasn't 100% but I gave it my all". "I just, from my angle, it didn't look like it was a situation where there was an out-of-bounds situation, or else I would have called for a review". "So that's tough. It's tough to hear". It was not a reviewable play.

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With 8:02 left in the game, Gonzaga's star center Przemek Karnowski's arm swung and hit Berry in the face as the junior guard attempted to steal the ball away. They brought steady cascades of boos from the crowd of 76,168, as fans from each side took turns protesting the whistles.

But to say everything went right for Roy Williams' team at this Final Four would be less than the truth. "I'm thinking our offense stinks".

UNC earned its sixth-ever men's basketball championship Monday night with a 71-65 win over Gonzaga, the sentimental favorites who were looking for their first-ever national title.

North Carolina point guard Joel Berry, who was named Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, made two free throws with 7 seconds remaining to finish with a game-high 22 points.

The story of the game ended up being the referees.

Gonzaga's numbers were even worse — 20 for 59 for 33.9 percent.

Moments later, Williams-Goss twisted his ankle and neither he nor anyone on his team would score again. "But we've received a tremendous amount of hurt already over the last three years". "But I'm hoping and knowing that perspective will come with time". With 2:50 left in the first half, they held a seven-point lead. They'd achieved the redemption they'd long sought. "We put in the work and we were right there, good enough to win a national championship". "I think that's why when you guys asked us about him, none of us were anxious because we know how tough he is and we know as a team how important getting here and winning this game was".

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