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SIXTH TITLE—North Carolina’s Theo Pinson, center, and the rest of the Tar Heels celebrate on the podium after defeating Gonzaga, 71-65. (AP Photo)

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Gonzaga broke through its Final Four ceiling, added to it by reaching the national championship game. The Zags figured while they’re here, might as well win the whole thing.

A flurry of whistles and missed shots left them one step short.

Plagued by foul trouble and an inability to hit shots in a foul-filled second half, Gonzaga lost its bid for the program’s first national championship in an ugly 71-65 loss to North Carolina on Monday night.

“I don’t think any of us think we played our absolute best game and that hurts,” Gonzaga point guard Nigel Williams-Goss said.

EMOTIONAL—North Carolina’s Theo Pinson, right, hugs teammate Joel Berry II moments after their Tar Heels defeated Gonzaga, 71-65, to claim the school’s sixth NCAA men’s basketball championship. (AP Photo)

The Zags reached the big stage with the best team in Mark Few’s 18 seasons, a mix of established players, talented transfers and a sterling recruiting class.

Gonzaga was efficient on offense, as it always seems to be, and added a dash of gritty defense, the piece that had always been missing.

The Zags reached the Final Four for the first time this season, ending more than a decade of you’re-overrated criticism.

Gonzaga had to grind out a victory over a physical South Carolina team in the national semifinals and faced another ugly one against the blue-blooded Tar Heels, exacerbated by a shower of second-half foul calls by the officials.

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