North Carolina missed 4 free throws within the last seconds however got here up with two key offensive rebounds to assist maintain again Oregon 77-76 earlier than 77, 612 followers within the Last 4 at College of Phoenix Stadium. Kennedy Meeks led the hassle for the Tar Heels, taking part in maybe the very best recreation of his profession, with 25 factors and 14 rebounds. Justin Jackson was additionally efficient for UNC scoring 22 factors and connecting on 4 three-pointers. Tyler Dorsey led Oregon with 21 factors, his eighth straight post-season recreation with over 20 factors.
North Carolina received the sport regardless of off video games offensively from Joel Berry II (2-of-14), Isaiah Hicks (1-of-12) and Theo Pinson (2-of-Eight). Pinson made his influence on the defensive finish, utilizing his size to bottle up Oregon’s Dillon Brooks. Brooks, the Pac-12 Participant of the 12 months, didn’t have his greatest event and was bothered by Pinson’s size. Brooks by no means may get it going, capturing 2-of-11 from the sphere in scoring 10 factors and fouled out with 1:32 remaining. Within the last minute, Oregon trailed 77-71 when Dorsey hit a three-pointer with 45 seconds left to chop the lead the three. After a Pinson miss with 18 seconds left, Keith Smith scored on a lay-up to chop the Tar Heel result in 77-76. That set the stage for 2 missed free throws by Meeks. Then after one other foul, Berry missed his two charity pictures earlier than Meeks pulled down his eighth offensive board of the night time to seal the sport for the Tar Heels.
Each groups had hassle moving into their offense within the first half till Oregon, helped by two three-pointers from Dylan Ennis (18 factors) ran out to a 30-22 lead. North Carolina got here again from there, taking a 39-36 halftime lead. They prolonged their run at first of the second half and introduced their result in eight factors (46-38) on a three-pointer from Jackson. It was a 26-Eight run by the Tar Heels which put them in command of the sport till the Geese made their late surge.
Oregon was surprisingly unfastened with the ball within the first half, committing 12 turnovers, with 4 from Brooks. They ended the competition with 16 turnovers towards solely seven assists, normally a recipe for catastrophe. However they fought exhausting defensively and Jordan Bell did his job on the boards (16 rebounds and 13 factors). Whereas the Geese couldn’t seize these final second rebounds they battled the larger Tar Heels evenly off the glass (43 rebounds every) though the Tar Heels had a +5 edge on the offensive glass. Oregon additionally shot poorly from distance (7-of-26) and stayed within the recreation on the foul line (25-of-28) with Dorsey making all 12 of his makes an attempt.
On the finish, the sport may have gone both approach. A staff wants slightly luck and key performs to win shut video games and advance within the event. Oregon bought that in wins towards Rhode Island and Michigan however couldn’t pull it off towards North Carolina. The Tar Heels advance to play Gonzaga, every a No. 1 seed, in a extremely anticipated championship recreation on Monday night time.
Within the first recreation, Nigel Williams-Goss scored 23 factors and added six assists and 5 rebounds to guide Gonzaga (37-1) to a hard-fought 77-73 win over a gritty South Carolina (26-11) squad. 7-Zero freshman Zach Collins might have been the important thing for the Zags, contributing 14 factors, 13 rebounds and 6 blocked pictures in 23 minutes off the bench. 6-6 sophomore guard PJ Dozier led the Gamecocks with 17 factors and added 9 rebounds.
Gonzaga got here out capturing very properly, hitting 5-of-9 first half three-pointers and 58 p.c from the sphere in transferring out to a 45-36 halftime lead. SEC Participant of the 12 months Sindarius Thornwell was off within the half solely capturing 1-of-5. The Gamecocks prolonged their protection within the second half and have been extra aggressive on the boards. Gonzaga had a 14-point lead with 10:55 remaining when South Carolina got here storming again, scoring the following 16 factors to take a 67-65 lead.
Collins answered with a three-pointer and Przemek Karnowski (13 factors) adopted with a dunk and lay-up to provide Gonzaga a 72-67 lead that they might not relinquish. South Carolina had probabilities to tie the sport within the last two minutes however Rakym Felder missed a jumper with 1:37 remaining and Dozier got here up empty on a three-pointer with 1:12 left. French freshman, 6-10 Killian Tillie hit two free throws, his solely factors of the sport, with two seconds left to provide the Zags their four-point profitable margin.
Helped by Collins’ robust board work Gonzaga ended the sport with a +5 rebounding margin. South Carolina lower that margin within the second half as Chris Silva (13 factors) completed with 13 rebounds. Thornwell (15 factors) shot an inefficient Four-of-12. Gonzaga hit just below 50 p.c (29-of-60) for the sport whereas hitting 9-of-19 three-pointers. Gonzaga advances to the championship recreation for the primary time in program historical past.
This text was written by Carl Berman, Managing Associate of NetScouts Basketball.