North Carolina head coach Roy Williams celebrates with forward Isaiah Hicks, center, after the championship game against Gonzaga on Monday night. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Isaiah Hicks kept saying his confidence was OK despite a miserable four-game stretch in his final NCAA Tournament. The senior proved it by coming up with a big second half in Monday's championship game against Gonzaga.
Hicks scored eight points on 4-for-5 shooting and had six rebounds after halftime, and finished with 13 points and nine rebounds in UNC's 71-65 win for the program's sixth NCAA title.
"This was it, this was my last game," Hicks said. "I felt like leaving everything out there was all I could do. I could live with the results. Sometimes you're going to win it, sometimes you're going to lose. But I'd rather lose going out with all I've got."
Hicks was averaging 6.0 points and 2.8 rebounds while making 9 of 29 shots (31 percent) and 6 of 13 free throws (46 percent) in the past four tournament games. That included a 1-for-12 debacle against Oregon in the national semifinals.
"Isaiah, my boy has been struggling like a dog," coach Roy Williams said, "but tonight he looked like a greyhound there a couple of times there a couple times there at the end."
Indeed. There were a couple of big ones, including this three-point play in the lane during the second half.
He followed minutes later with two straight baskets, one when he went high over a defender to put one in just before the shot clock. Then there was this hanging one over Johnathan Williams with 25.4 seconds left that pushed UNC to a 68-65 lead, part of UNC's game-closing 8-0 run to the title.
"I felt like I was never frustrated or not confident in myself," Hicks said. "I felt like I was always trying, making good moves, but it wasn’t going in. I was always like next one’s going to go in, next one’s going in. And eventually it did."
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