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North Carolina take NCAA crown
Tar Heels seize coveted college basketball title win over Michigan State.
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2009 10:21 GMT

MVP Wayne Ellington scores an easy basket [GALLO/GETTY]

North Carolina powered past Michigan State University 89-72 in the finals of the prestigious NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association)basketball championships in Detroit.

The victory gave the Tar Heels their fifth national championships and first title since 2005.

North Carolina (34-4) raced to a 34-11 lead in the first 10 minutes, silencing many of the 73,000 in the Ford Field stadium that had been pleading for the home-state Spartans to dominate the game.

Wayne Ellington, the tournament's MVP, had 17 of his 19 points by halftime when the Tar Heels held a commanding 55-34 lead and had taken control of the game.

Strong start

"We came out strong," said Tar Heels forward Tyler Hansbrough.

"We knew there was going to be a big crowd there for them and we wanted to take them out of it early."

Michigan State (31-7), who never cut the lead below 13 after halftime, were paced in scoring by Bosnian-born centre Goran Suton, who had 17 points on seven-of-10 shooting.

"We got off to a start where we looked a little bit either shell-shocked or a little bit worn down," conceded Spartans coach Tom Izzo.

"You can't do that against a good team."

The decision by North Carolina's Ellington, Hansbrough, Ty Lawson and Danny Green not to turn professional after last year's bitterly disappointing semi-final loss to Kansas paid off.

Lawson recorded a team-best 21 points and a championship-game record eight steals.

"I'm so proud of this team," said Tar Heels coach Roy Williams.

"People anointed us before the year that you were going to go undefeated, which I thought was silly at the time.

"Then we lost two games and everybody jumped off the ship."

Michagan State's Goran Suton bowls through the defence [GALLO/GETTY]
Great season

The victory put an exclamation point on a stunning tournament streak by the Tar Heels, who won each of their six games by a double-digit margin.

"Every time we made a decent run, our crowd got into it, they gave the ball to Lawson or Hansbrough and they made a great play," said Spartans guard Travis Walton.

"That's why they won the national championship, because they are a great team and they can stop your runs."

Michigan State's East Lansing campus is just 90 miles from Detroit and the Spartans were trying to become the first school since UCLA in 1975 to win the title in their home state.

The Spartans had carried the dreams of an economically ravaged city desperately searching for a glimmer of hope but were unable to finish their impressive tournament run.

"As I walked off the floor, I told Hansbrough that it was really nice to see a bunch of guys that stayed in school and put winning above everything else," said Izzo.

"Even though we did have a cause they had a cause, too, and I was pretty impressed by that."

Michigan State stunned Connecticut 82-73 in the semi-finals but lost the magic against North Carolina, shooting only 40 percent while committing 21 turnovers.

As Suton stepped off the court in what was his final game, the big Serb fought back tears, his lips quivering as he was embraced by each team mate.

"We didn't make enough shots, we didn't do enough things right, we turned the ball over too much, and we played a damn good team," said Izzo.

Source:
Agencies
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