GLENDALE, Ariz. — Seldom in life do we get what we actually desperately want.
For a year now — almost exactly to the day — all these North Carolina players wanted was a chance to redeem themselves, an opportunity to erase the heartbreak from last April’s national championship game loss. They wanted this: A title of their own.
And, somehow, they got just that, beating Gonzaga, 71-65, in Monday night’s national championship game here at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
The Tar Heels became just the fourth team to come back from losing the national championship the year before to go on and win it the following year. It is the third national championship for North Carolina coach Roy Williams, who has won all three with the Tar Heels and since 2005. It also gives him one more than his mentor, the late Dean Smith.
Justin Jackson delivered the go-ahead three-point play and North Carolina scored the last eight points for a 71-65 win over Gonzaga and a title that heartbreakingly eluded the Tar Heels last year.
It was an ugly affair, filled with 44 fouls and 52 free throws but, ultimately, the contest with the result the Tar Heels (33-7) simply had to have.
This was their redemption season, and they closed the deal a year after losing on a 3-pointer at the buzzer to Villanova.
Carolina was down 2 with 1:40 left when Jackson took a pass under the bucket from Theo Pinson, made a layup and got fouled.
The free throw made it 66-65, and after a Gonzaga miss on the other end, Isaiah Hicks made a shot to help North Carolina start pulling away to the school's sixth title.
FROM USA TODAY & AP REPORTS