Texas Tech’s hopes to earn the first national men’s basketball championships were denied in the final game Monday night at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
De’Andre Hunter erupted for a career-high 27 points — including 22 in the second half and overtime — to lead Virginia to a gritty 85-77 overtime triumph over the Red Raiders.
Kyle Guy added 24 points and Ty Jerome added 16 to help bring home the first national championship home to Charlottesville.
Tech went ahead 73-70 with 3:09 left in overtime on Matt Mooney’s three. But the Cavs responded by reeling off 11 straight points to bring home the title.
The Cavs finished the game by hitting their final 14 free throws in overtime.
Brandone Francis scored 17 off the bench to lead Tech (31-7), who was gunning to become the first Texas college to claim a men’s hoop title since UTEP, then known as Texas Western, won in 1966.
Tech charged back late in the game, scoring seven straight points late in regulation. Two foul shots by Norense Odiase that gave them a 68-65 lead with 22 seconds left. But Hunter drained a clutch three on the ensuing possession to notch the game at 68 and force the first overtime in a national championship game since 2008.
Earlier, Tech made a dramatic comeback at the end of regulation. Down 10 with 9:53 left, the Red Raiders charged back. A three-point play by Odiase pulled the Red Raiders into a 59-59 tie with 3:28 left.
The Red Raiders had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation. but Jarrett Culver’s late three was blocked by Braxton Key at the buzzer.
The Cavaliers (35-3) took advantage of hot shooting down the stretch to nail down the victory. It gave them and their coach Tony Bennett a remarkable turnaround, coming back from a history-making loss last season when they were the first No. 1 team upset by a No. 16-seeded team in tournament history when they lost to Maryland-Baltimore County.
Culver again struggled in a tough offensive game, missing his first eight shots and finished with 15 points.
Virginia took control with a 7-0 run early in the game, capped by an alley-oop dunk by Key that gave them a 9-3 lead with 12:48 left in the game.
Tech struggled mightily on offense in the opening minutes against the Cavaliers’ nation-leading defense. The Red Raiders missed their first eight shots from the field and didn’t get their first basket until Davide Moretti hit a three 7 minutes, 28 seconds into the game.
The Cavs’ amoeba-like zone defense continued to discombobulate the Red Raiders, who didn’t score on back-to-back possessions until threes by Kyler Edwards and Francis with 8:21 left in the first half.
Those hoops helped spark a 12-2 Red Raider spurt that pulled them into a 19-all tie.
Virginia closed the first half on a 11-4 run capped by Jerome’s 3-pointer on the final play of the first half boosted the Cavs to a 32-29 halftime advantage.
Guy led Virginia with a game-high 10 points at the break. Francis and Moretti had eight points apiece for the Red Raiders. who parlayed a 13-2 edge in bench points in the first half to stay close.
There are 23 Division I basketball programs in Texas. This is only the fourth time one of them has reached the championship game, and first time since Houston in 1984.
Monday’s game was the first time that two schools that hadn’t played for a national championship since Indiana State and Michigan State met in 1979.