Slow and steady wins the race: Virginia becomes 2019 National Champion

Isabel Gonzalez

For the second year in a row, Virginia made headlines at the NCAA Tournament. However, the Cavaliers were able to feel much better about it this time around.
This season’s roster made school history as Virginia got to take the trophy home for the first time ever. This was accomplished by pulling an 85-77 overtime victory over the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Monday night. The game might have started off slowly, but it provided some madness for the last day of the Big Dance.

Kyle Guy can finally look into a new Twitter profile photo.

Last year, Virginia became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed (UMBC 74-54). This was a tough one to swallow for head coach Tony Bennett, but he said the experience helped him and the program become better.
“In those spots when the world is telling you you’re a failure, you’re a loser, you’re the worst thing going and all that stuff, you say, ‘okay, what really matters?’ It pushed me to that in a way,” said Bennett. “Then it drove me. I think as a staff we became better. We had to look at how can we change if we’re in this spot again and we play certain teams. We adjusted to things.”

Five minutes into the game, the combined score was five points. The Red Raiders led 3-2 with their three points coming from free throws. Their offense struggled, taking seven minutes and 22 seconds to score a field goal. With 9:54 remaining, the Cavaliers had a 10-point lead. Fast forward to the 6:39 mark and Tariq Owens was dunking to tie the score 21-21. The first period almost ended with an even 29-29, but Virginia’s Ty Jerome hit a three-pointer that allowed his team to walk into halftime with a 32-29 lead.
The Cavaliers were ahead through most of the second period, but given the nature of this year’s March Madness, the game went into overtime. Braxton Key played a big role as he blocked a jumper by Jarrett Culver with one second left.
Virginia took advantage of every opportunity during overtime, going 12-of-12 from the charity line. The last time the Red Raiders were ahead was 73-72 with 2:45 remaining.

The winning offense was led by De’Andre Hunter’s 27 points. He was one rebound short of collecting a double-double. Teammate Kyle Guy also made his presence felt with 24 points. On the defense, Hunter held Texas Tech’s leading scorer, Culver, to 15 points in 5-of-22 shooting.
Box score
“De’Andre, he was just named Defensive Player of the Year, and his ability to lock in and slide is as good as most,” Bennett said. “I thought that was a great two-way performance, defensively and offensively, in this game and this setting. He saved his best for last. That tells you there’s something in that young man. He’s got more — he’s scratching the surface.”
The 2019 NCAA Tournament was an exciting one, but now college basketball season is officially over and the countdown begins again: only 210 days.