Beats Oregon 77-76 to advance to finals
Apopka’s Joel Berry II, despite two nagging ankle injuries, scored 11 points, grabbed three rebounds, had two assists, and a steal as the North Carolina Tar Heels defeated the Oregon Ducks 77-76. One year after a stunning loss to Villanova at the buzzer, the Tar Heels return to the NCAA Final game Monday night.
In what was a sloppy game at times, the tandem of Kennedy Meeks and Justin Jackson led the Tar Heels. Meeks had 25 points, 14 rebounds and three steals and Jackson added 22 points, including four made threes.
Carolina was bailed out by clutch rebounding late after Kennedy Meeks missed two free throws with 5.8 seconds left, and a huge rebound by Theo Pinson. Berry missed the ensuing free throws, but Meeks dug up another board to save the game.
Oregon was led by Dylan Ennis’s 18 points and six rebounds. The Ducks also got 13 and 15 from big man Jordan Bell, who briefly left the game due to an injury late in the first half. Stars Dillon Brooks and Dorsey struggled at times, combining for 31 points and going a combined 18–18 from the line, but making just five field goals between them. The Ducks shot just 7–26 from three as a team.
North Carolina will face Gonzaga on Monday night after the Bulldogs beat South Carolina 77–73 on Saturday.
Berry, a junior point guard for the Tar Heels, played high school basketball at Lake Highland Preparatory School in Orlando, Florida. He led his team to three state titles and was the first player named Florida Mr. Basketball three times. He was named a Parade All-American and McDonald’s All-American as a senior in 2014. At North Carolina, Berry has led the Tar Heels, averaging 14.6 points, 3.7 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game this season.
ESPN and Sports Illustrated contributed to this report.