In a classic encounter in Glendale, Arizona, the University of North Carolina thwarted the sorry memories of the past year to record a narrow 71-65 victory over Gonzaga to clinch their sixth NCAA tournament title on Monday.

In a pure case of redemption, the Tar Heels started the title match under tremendous pressure which showed on their young guns who faltered during the early stages but redeemed themselves with some quality point-scoring spree to stun the Bulldogs.

Pressure-cooker-like finish

Such was the pressure on the UNC lads that they scored only 15 points from the 26 free throws, but they certainly made up for the loss with a top-quality 4-for-27 three-point shooting spree that proved the eventual difference between the two top sides in the NCAA circuit, which has been the nursery for the top-notch basketball talent for the NBA.

Coach Roy Williams and his lads had fallen short of the championship glory last year but this time they left no stone unturned in the search for the victory in the last game of the season. This is Roy Williams’ third NCAA title with the Tar Heels.

Talking about the immense pressure and how young guns handled it, coach Roy Williams told reporters, “I think this group was tough enough tonight”.

The final burst

Gonzaga were enjoying a slim lead of two points at 65-63 with only 1:53 left on the clock. All they needed was that one final push, one final effort from one of their mates to seal the deal. However, it wasn’t to be. Their floor leader Nigel Williams-Goss did his awesome best to lead them this far but he might have run out of steam going into the final part of the championship bid.

Instead, the knockout burst came from the other side of the court where North Carolina started a flurry of good plays which eventually led them into a commanding position. But the most interesting thing was that the final punch came from the guys who were least expected to deliver it.

Theo Pinson was in the middle of the action as he posted the assist with 1:40 left to find Justin Jackson who drew a foul for a 66-65 lead.

As the clock moved towards completing its circle, it was Isaiah Hicks who assumed the charge and banked in a rollicking shot for a 68-65 lead with only 26 seconds of play left.

Kennedy Meeks, the rescuer

The final moment belonged to the ever-reliable Tar Heels superstar Kennedy Meeks as he set Jackson for a lonely jam with 11.4 seconds left for a commanding and imperious 70-65 lead.

Kennedy Meeks has been the rescuer for the UNC all this season as he bailed them out from their massive trouble against Oregon with 25 points and 14 rebounds. He finished with seven points and 10 rebounds despite missing 3 of 4 free throws in the final. Meeks was not finished yet. He made a final steal to add yet another point to his team’s tally to finish the game with an incredible 8-0 final burst which proved the difference between the two bunches of great sportsmen.