PHOENIX – North Carolina’s Joel Berry scored 22 points and Justin Jackson added 16 to help the Tar Heels to their sixth national championship, 71-65 over Gonzaga, Monday night at University of Phoenix Stadium.
UNC rallied for a 9-2 run in the last two minutes to close its title push. Nigel Williams-Goss, who paced the Zags with 15 points, staked Gonzaga to a 65-63 lead with 1:53 to play. Jackson, however, scored five of the Heels’ last nine points including a clinching dunk with 12 seconds remaining.
Thwarting Gonzaga’s attempt at a first NCAA title in any sport, the Tar Heels avenged a nail-biting loss in last year’s championship game.
The Zags led 35-32 at the break, behind the play of point guard Josh Perkins who had all of his 13 points by intermission. North Carolina, though, scored the first eight points of the second half to re-take the lead and set the stage for eight ties and nine lead changes over the game’s final 20 minutes.
The see-saw battle for the NCAA crown was closely contested throughout the game. A seven-point, first-half bulge for Gonzaga was the largest margin for either team.
Kevin Kugler and Clark Kellogg called the action on Westwood One Sports.