Virginia tops Texas Tech for first NCAA title

The Cavaliers holds off the Red Raiders in overtime to win their first National Championship

Jon Simon
April 09, 2019 - 12:55 am

Photo: Brace Hemmelgarn - USA TODAY Sports

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Virginia and Texas Tech brought the top-two defenses in college basketball to the 2019 National Championship game on Monday night at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Because of their respective playing styles, many didn’t expect Monday night’s title game to be an exciting one; and while it was a defensive battle for the majority of regulation, the scoring picked up in the final minutes and it made for a thrilling finish.

The Cavaliers bested the Red Raiders 85-77 in overtime to take home their first National Championship in program history. The victory also completes Virginia’s redemption tour, as they have overcome last year’s first round loss to 16-seed UMBC, the first loss by a 1-seed to a 16 in tournament history.

Virginia went up by as much as 10 in a low scoring first half. Texas Tech got back in the game and took the lead at one point late in the first period, but the Cavaliers held a 32-29 lead at the break.

Virginia kept the Red Raiders at bay for much of the second half and led 53-43 with 10 minutes to go. Texas Tech’s offense finally heated up in the final five minutes of regulation and went on an 8-0 run to tie the game 59-59 with 3:28 left.

A pair of free throws from Norense Odiase gave the Red Raiders a 68-65 led with less than 30-seconds to go. Virginia guard De’Andre Hunter responded with a three to tie the game at 68 with 12-seconds to go. Hunter finished with a career-high 27 points with 22 coming in the second half and overtime. The sophomore’s late triple was one of four three-pointers he made Monday night.

Jarrett Culver missed a go-ahead three with five-seconds left, but Texas Tech was gifted one last chance at a buzzer beater after Virginia coughed-up the ball and threw it out of bounds with a second to go. Culver got a good look off the inbound, but got his shot blocked by Braxton Key.

Matt Mooney scored five-straight points for Texas Tech to start overtime and gave the Red Raiders a 73-70 lead following a jumper with 3:09 to go. Virginia proceeded to go on an 11-0 run, sealing their historic title win with a dominant close-out performance.

The Cavaliers went 8-for-8 from the free throw line during the 11-0 run and finished 12-for-12 in the overtime period. Virginia finished 20-for-23 from the charity strike for the game (87%) and shot 27-for-59 from the field (46%). Virginia also shot 46% from three, going 11-for-24 from behind the arc.

Texas Tech didn’t shoot too poorly from the field, going 27-for-63 (43%), but finished just 10-for-30 from three.

Culver, the Red Raiders’ leading scorer and 2019 Big 12 Player of the Year had a tough shooting night. The sophomore finished with 15 points, but shot just 5-of-22 from the floor and went 0-for-6 from three. Fellow sophomore Davide Moretti also finished with 15 points for Texas Tech and senior Brandone Francis scored a team-high 17.

Kyle Guy was named the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player and finished with 24 points for Virginia, going 4-for-9 from three. Ty Jerome was the only other Cavalier besides Guy and Hunter to finish in double figures. The junior scored 16 points to go with eight assists and six rebounds.

Virginia finishes their championship season with a record of 35-3 and a monumental-sized weight off their shoulders. Despite getting another 1-seed and sharing the regular season ACC Championship with North Carolina, the Cavaliers didn’t get a lot of respect this season due to the loss to UMBC last year.

Virginia’s title win is quite the redemption story. It’s also the first National Championship for head coach Tony Bennett, who has spent the last 10 seasons with Virginia and has taken the Cavaliers to six-consecutive NCAA tournaments.

“To be able to give [Bennett] a National Championship, and do it for him, the program and our families, it means the world,” Guy said after the game. “I wish I had the words but it still does not feel real.”

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