Gonzaga falls to UNC in heartbreaking final minute
Gonzaga’s Cinderella story came to an end tonight against the University of North Carolina, 65–71, in Glendale, Arizona for the championships of the men’s NCAA March Madness Tournament.
Despite the loss, the Bulldogs made history this year, making it to the first ever Final Four for Gonzaga University. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels, entering their twenty-first Final Four appearance, were looking for success after a heartbreaking defeat by Villanova with a buzzer-beater in the championships last year.
Redemption- this was the name of the game for UNC since the last hundredth of a second clicked off the game clock in last year’s finals against Villanova.
UNC head coach Roy Williams wrote this word on the locker room white board at the beginning of their season. In fact, the players even had a group chat for their team titled, “Redemption.”
But redemption wasn’t the only thing on the Tar Heels’ minds.
“One of the things we had to be was tough enough,” UNC head coach Roy Williams said after the win.
Tough enough they were- the Tar Heels fought a back and forth battle with the Bulldogs for the entirety of the game. The two teams were neck and neck with the fans’ emotions on a wild roller coaster ride throughout the night.
By the end of the game, some Gonzaga students and even a few players were crying for the Bulldog loss. The Zags took some L’s on the court, which probably didn’t help their ability to compete against the Tar Heels.
Jordan Matthews, #4 for Gonzaga, slipped right underneath the basket on his way to make a layup. Zach Collins, #32, fouled out of the game with only 5:03 left in the game. Plus, star Bulldog Nigel Williams-Goss, #5, rolled his ankle with 1:25 left in the game.
Williams-Goss chose to remain on the court for the rest of the game despite having physically jumped from the pain of twisting his ankle. His heroic decision may have kept the Bulldogs in the fight, but it may have also cost them the championship.
As the clock was ticking down to the final twenty seconds of the game, the ball was passed toward Williams-Goss, but was swiped away by UNC. It’s possible that his hurt ankle, which he rolled previously in the game against South Carolina two days earlier, prohibited him from making that play and receiving the ball.
Gonzaga certainly did not look their strongest in those crucial last few seconds of the game, falling apart in the final moments to let UNC score a dunk and a free throw.
“There’s nothing worse than confetti falling and it’s not for you,” one student remarked as the confetti sprayed out into the arena.
With hard work, determined mindsets, and perhaps a bit of luck, Roy Williams led the Tar Heels to their sixth national championship title and for himself, his third title. It’s safe to say UNC has finally redeemed themselves on the court.