Virginia wins first National Title in Historic Run

Taylor Jordan, Courier Staff

All the madness has come to an end as Virginia defeated Texas Tech in overtime, 85-77, in the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship Game on Monday.

For the first time since 2006, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament was producing a first-time national champion. Virginia and Texas Tech were playing for the first National Championship in program history.

One year after becoming the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 in the NCAA tournament, Virginia has made one of the greatest redemption stories in sports history.

“This is just everything you dream as a kid. This is a dream come true,” Virginia guard Ty Jerome said.

Jerome, De’Andre Hunter and Kyle Guy led the Cavaliers, scoring 67 of their points. Hunter scored a career-high 27 points, Guy added 24 while Jerome finished with 16.

The Cavaliers’ defense did it again, making Texas Tech pressure for almost every point. Jarrett Culver, the Red Raiders’ best player, scored 15 points but was only 5-of-22 shooting. Texas Tech trailed double-digits twice, and climbed all the way back into the lead with 3-pointers.

After a slow start by both teams, Virginia rushed to a 17-7 lead midway through the first half before Texas Tech, who had missed their first eight shots, went on an 18-4 rout. The Red Raiders hit three consecutives 3-pointers by Brandone Fracis and Davide Moretti.

Virginia had the lead at 32-29 after Jerome nailed a 20-footer from the top of the key to cap-off a tug-of-war first half. Both teams combined for 10 3-pointers, five ties and four lead changes. The Red Raiders were able to hang around thanks to 13 points off the bench and 7-of-13 shooting to end the half.

The Cavaliers led by as many as 10 points with less than 10 minutes to play. The Red Raiders, however, cut down their deficit to one about nine minutes later and took a lead with less than a minute left of the game.

Jarrett Culver’s layup on a drive with 35.1 seconds left in regulation gave Texas Tech a 66-65 lead, and Norense Odiase, a 62 percent shooter, hit two free throws with 22.5 seconds left. But Hunter tied it with a 3-pointer with 12.9 seconds left.

Culver missed a 3-pointer, but with the ball rolling out of bounds, the Red Raiders took possession with one second left. The final shot was blocked by Braxton Key, sending the game into overtime.

During overtime, Virginia made all 12 of their free throws and Hunter splashed another three-point shot with 2:09 left, making it 75-73.

With seven seconds left, the Cavaliers’ Braxton Key stood at the free throw line, and the trio of Guy, Hunter and Jerome stood behind him enjoying the final seconds they had left. Virginia went on to claim their first national championship 85-77.

“I told them, I just want a chance at a title fight one day,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “That’s all I want.. You’re never alone in the hills and the valleys we faced in the last year.”