April 7, 2009

 

DETROIT (AP) -The horn had barely sounded when Danny Green ran onto the court waving a towel, followed closely by Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and the rest of their North Carolina teammates. They ran to midcourt and mobbed each other while jumping around on the Final Four logo.

This is the moment they came back to school for, the chance to storm the court with confetti and streamers drifting down from the roof of cavernous Ford Field. Now, after Monday night's 89-72 win over Michigan State, North Carolina's quartet who all considered a jump to the NBA as underclassmen last year have accomplished what they came back to school to do.

They've won the program's fifth NCAA championship.

Hansbrough finished with 18 points, the final game of a career in which he set the Atlantic Coast Conference's scoring record and the storied program's rebounding mark.

Lawson had 21 points and eight steals, while Ellington scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half to help the Tar Heels to a commanding lead. Green had just six points before fouling out with 1:41 to play.

Still, the statistics didn't matter. Not to a group that had carried the Tar Heels to a regional championship game in 2007 and a Final Four last season only to fall short each time in incredibly frustrating fashion.

This time, the experience of those failures carried them through, both when they roared out of the gate to take a double-digit lead in the first 4 minutes and when they had to make enough plays to turn away the Spartans' desperate but ultimately futile comeback attempts.