Virginia Ends Texas Tech’s Historic NCAA Tournament Run
The Texas Tech Red Raiders fell short of a national title.
Texas Tech fell on Monday night in Minneapolis, Minnesota to the Virginia Cavaliers, 85-77, ending a historic season.
How they got here
Virginia lost to a 16-seed in last year's NCAA Tournament -- the only 1-seed in the history of the NCAA Tournament to do so. All but one of their players returned. To say they had a chip on their shoulder would be an understatement.
Texas Tech ended their last season at the Elite Eight -- at that time, a program first. One year later, and after major roster turnover, they made it all the way. Head Coach Chris Beard, in three years, has taken the team to the Championship Round.
The first half
It was a defensive battle for the ages. The two best defensive teams in the country locked down their ends of the court during both halves of the game. Shot clocks ran low or ran out often, and only 5 total points were scored in the first five minutes of the game.
Virginia soon picked up steam, nailing a three-pointer and a big dunk to put them up 9-3 at the 12-minute mark. Davide Moretti quickly answered with a 3-pointer of his own. However, the Red Raiders struggled to find footing, while the Cavaliers extended their lead to 15-7 with 10:15 left in the game.
From there, both teams got more aggressive. A flurry of shots between the 10:15 and 8-minute marks brought the score to 19-16, Virginia. Then, Moretti put Texas Tech back in the game with a big three-pointer.
The pace quickened from there, and the teams jockeyed for position, trading points. That momentum was briefly interrupted when a tortilla was thrown onto the court. (We'll let you guess which team's fans did that.)
At the end of the first half, Virginia sunk a last-second three-pointer to take the lead, 32-29.
The second half
The Red Raiders took the court knowing they could leave no points out there and had to be more explosive. The Cavaliers' offense, in the first half, seemingly fought against themselves -- and the shot clock. Texas Tech couldn't fall into that trap, too. But they did. Texas Tech trailed Virginia nearly the entire second half.
In the opening three minutes, Virginia put up 6 points, while Texas Tech struggled and only added 2 points. Virginia extended their lead to 9 and kept it there. Culver got a little fired up, but the Red Raiders struggled to keep up with the Cavaliers, who continued to put up three-pointers and keep their 9-point lead alive.
With 11:19 left in the game, the score was 50-41, Virginia. Less than two minutes later, Virginia took a double-digit lead for the second time in the game, 53-43.
From there, Virginia commanded the basketball court. Culver would get hot, but Virginia flexed the toughness that brought them to the big game. Owens fouled out.
With under four minutes left in the game, when it seemed darkest for the Red Raiders, something happened. Virginia got sloppy. Mooney hit a shot. Texas Tech tied on a free throw. Virginia retook the lead with a couple of free throws of their own, and then Culver on the line tied it up again.
A three-pointer by Virginia tied it up at 68, and Texas Tech's shot with 1 second left on the game clock was blocked by Braxton Key, sending the game into overtime. It was only the eighth time in history a championship game went into overtime.
In OT, Texas Tech fought to keep their momentum from the final moments of the second half going, but some fouls kept Virginia in the game. With 5 unanswered points, Virginia grabbed the lead, 75-73 with one minute left in OT.
The Red Raiders fought until the bitter end, but incredible coaching from Tony Bennett and stellar play from Virginia outmatched the Red Raiders in an instant-classic championship game.
Jarrett Culver and Davide Moretti would lead the Red Raiders' scoring, but Brandone Francis would have a team-high 17 points. Freshman Kyler Edwards would add 12 points in the biggest game of his career. De'Andre Hunter had a game-high of 27 points with 9 boards. He was definitely the player of the game. Kyle Guy added another 24 for the Cavaliers.
It wasn't the outcome that the Red Raiders wanted, but the heart and class that the team showed on the floor is definitely commendable. It's hard to not be excited for the future of the Red Raider program with Chris Beard at the helm.