MINNEAPOLIS — Virginia has completed its historic comeback.
The Cavaliers, a year removed from suffering the worst loss in NCAA tournament history, are national champions after winning a thrilling title game, 85-77 in overtime, against Texas Tech at U.S. Bank Stadium on Monday night.
De’Andre Hunter’s 3-pointer with just over 2 minutes left in overtime put the Cavaliers up a pair, and Texas Tech went on nearly a 2-minute scoring drought as Virginia exorcised the ghost of UMBC with the first championship in school history.
The Cavaliers led by as many as 10 in the second half, but the Red Raiders knotted things up with just over 3 minutes to play in regulation.
With the game tied at 61, Hunter buried a 15-foot jumper with Jarrett Culver on him to put the Cavaliers up three. Culver clanked a 3 on the other end and Kyle Guy found a seam for a layup to put Virginia up 65-61. Texas Tech responded, however, when Davide Moretti made a 3 with 1:31 left on the clock to cut the deficit to a single point.
Hunter then looked to put the Cavs back up three, but Norense Odiase blocked his shot and the ball went out of bounds to Texas Tech. Culver then delivered on the other end with his signature spin, getting to the rim and finishing with his left hand to give Texas Tech a 66-65 lead with 35.1 seconds left. Ty Jerome’s floater missed the mark on the other end, and Odiase connected on two free throws to give Tech a three-point advantage but Hunter connected on a 3 to tie the game.
Culver’s potential game-winner was off the mark, and Hunter corralled the rebound but he attempted to outlet it to Guy, who was signaling for a timeout and missed the pass sailing out of bounds to give Texas Tech one final chance to win the game in regulation. Culver’s fadeaway, though, was blocked by Braxton Key to send the game into extra time.
The game’s start was as defensive-oriented as had been predicted with Texas Tech making just one of its first 11 shots as the Cavaliers walked out to a 10-point lead. The Red Raiders, though, finally got their offense jump-started with back-to-back 3s from Brandone Francis to make the stretch run of the first half compelling beyond just space-eating defense.
Virginia got a 3 from Ty Jerome right before the buzzer signaling the break to take a 32-29 lead into halftime as it held Texas Tech to 33.3 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes.
After the second half played to a stalemate, Virginia outscored the Red Raiders 19-11 in overtime.