GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) It’s OK, Carolina, you can open your eyes.
An unwatchable game turned into a beautiful night for the Tar Heels, who turned a free-throw contest into a championship they’ve been waiting an entire year to celebrate.
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Justin Jackson delivered the go-ahead 3-point play with 1:40 left and North Carolina pulled away for a 71-65 win over Gonzaga that washed away a year’s worth of heartache.
It was, in North Carolina’s words, a redemption tour – filled with extra time on the practice court and the weight room, all fueled by a devastating loss in last year’s title game on Kris Jenkins’ 3-point dagger at the buzzer for Villanova.
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) – The official was right there standing over the play.
North Carolina’s Kennedy Meeks and Gonzaga’s Silas Melson were on the floor trying to corral a rebound with 53 seconds left in the NCAA championship game with the Tar Heels up by one.
Referee Mike Eades called a held ball and North Carolina retained possession, and then used that possession to score the biggest basket of the game. The problem was that photos of the play show Meeks’ hand on the end line while he had his other arm around the ball. That should have made it Gonzaga ball, down 1 with plenty of time left.
GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) – Joel Berry II headed a trio of players for national champion North Carolina named to the all-tournament team for the Final Four.
Berry, hobbled by two bad ankles, played well enough in the championship game after a clunker in the semifinals to be named the outstanding player of the Final Four.
Berry was joined by teammates Kennedy Meeks and Justin Jackson.
Runner-up Gonzaga had the other two players on the team – Nigel Williams-Goss and Zach Collins.
WASHINGTON (AP) – Patrick Ewing put Georgetown basketball on the map, turning the Hoyas into a national power as the menacing force in the middle in the 1980s.
Three decades later, Ewing is the Big Man on Campus again.
Georgetown hired the Hoyas’ legend, bringing him back to take over a program that had fallen on hard times over the past two seasons and helping the former All-American center finally realize his long-held dream of becoming a head coach.
In announcing the hire, Georgetown called Ewing ”the greatest men’s basketball player to ever don the Blue (and) Gray.”
He led the Hoyas to the school’s only national championship in 1984 and now he takes over for the son of the man who coached him at Georgetown in what is surely an emotional transfer of power.
NEW YORK (AP) – The NHL announced it will not participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, refusing for the first time in 20 years to halt its season for three weeks so its stars can chase gold for their home countries.
From Alex Ovechkin and Jonathan Toews to Connor McDavid and Henrik Lundqvist, the world’s best players called playing in the Olympics important. The league decided otherwise.
Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly informed the NHL Players’ Association that the matter was ”officially closed” after weeks of speculation.
The NHLPA said in a statement that players are ”extraordinarily disappointed and adamantly disagree with the NHL’s shortsighted decision.”
The NHL had allowed its players to participate in the past five Olympics dating to 1998.
PLYMOUTH, Mich. (AP) – Hannah Brandt scored with 7:35 remaining in the third period, and the United States held off Finland 5-3 to secure the top seed for the knockout round of the women’s hockey world championship.
Hilary Knight scored twice for the Americans, who won all three of their games in group play and will advance straight to Thursday’s semifinals, where they’ll face the winner of a quarterfinal between Russia and Germany.
Canada received the other bye into the semis and will take on the winner of a Finland-Sweden quarterfinal.
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Joc Pederson launched a grand slam and the Dodgers backed Clayton Kershaw with a franchise-record four home runs in a 14-3 win over San Diego on opening day.
Pederson drove in five runs, Yasmani Grandal homered twice and Corey Seager added a three-run shot.
Kershaw allowed two runs – one earned – and two hits in seven innings, struck out eight and walked none in his seventh consecutive opening day start.
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – Abraham Almonte singled in the go-ahead run in a three-run ninth as Cleveland won the opener of its AL title defense, beating Texas 8-5.
Making his first opening-day start for Texas, Yu Darvish had a 5-1 lead behind Rougned Odor, who homered twice and drove in four runs.
Edwin Encarnacion tied the score 5-5 with an eighth-inning homer off Matt Bush, and the Indians went ahead against Sam Dyson. Carlos Santana added an RBI double and scored on Michael Brantley’s single.
Andrew Miller (1-0) struck out two in a perfect eighth, and Cody Allen got the save by striking out the side around Elvis Andrus’ triple.
SAN DIEGO (AP) – The sign on the front of the building still says ”San Diego Chargers.”
The players on the practice field were Los Angeles Chargers.
In one of the awkward twists of relocation, the Chargers began offseason workouts in the city they called home for 56 seasons before team chairman Dean Spanos decided to move because the voters rejected his demand for a new stadium.
The Bolts will be here through June, when their lease at Chargers Park expires and they’ll move to their temporary headquarters in Costa Mesa.