On the night of Monday, Virginia Cavaliers won their redemption shot in the final of men’s NCAA tournament. It was a critical victory for the team that had bounced back from last year’s humiliating defeat by the hands of No. 16 team. The team defeated Texas Tech with a score of 85-77 in the overtime.
With passing the barrier of region-final and the semifinal, and learning from mistakes made in each game, the team displayed their best performance in the tournament till date and earned the trophy.
De’Andre Hunter, who couldn’t play the tournament last year, supported the team from both ends of the court by playing as guard for Virginia Cavaliers. Hunter not only harassed the parameter of Jarret Culver – the star player of Texas Tech – but also carried around his own weight after missing seven out of eight shots in the first half of the game.
With 2 minutes and 10 seconds remaining for the overtime, a 3 pointer by Hunter helped Virginia Cavaliers lead the game by 75-73. Hunter’s 3 pointers with the help of the pass from Ty Jerome proved to be soul crushing point for Red Raiders and fate’s support with the team throughout the tournament.
Hunter reacted to this score by saying, “I was thinking I have to make this. That’s exactly what I said in my head. I shot it. It felt good. It was on a line. And it went in.”
Hunter also displayed defensive play in overtime, taking the ball away from Davide Moretti and getting it out of court with 1:06 remaining and Virginia still having a 75-73 lead.
Jerome scored two foul shots with 41 seconds left, and Virginia scored all 12 of its free throw attempts in overtime, and not providing any opportunity to the Red Raiders to score.
The Red Raiders made a comeback after surpassing the trail of 10 points during the midway of second half, without much help of Tariq Owens – who made all efforts to play and score for the team. Owens, the starting forward, had sprained his right ankle during the Saturday game and appeared to be struggling with the same.
The Red Raiders were unable to make most of their lead of 68-65 after Norense Odiase scored on two free throws with 22 seconds left.
Brandone Francis tried his best to help Texas Tech by scoring 17 points off the bench, and even after scoring 15 points and delivering five assists and three blocks, Culver was unable to deliver enough to help the team win the game. His two misses in the final seconds before the over-time, could have helped Texas win the title.
Both the teams, Virginia Cavaliers and Texas Tech, were playing against each other in final for the first time. Neither of the two teams have played the final earlier, which happened exactly 40 years ago.
While Texas Tech’s Matt Mooney in a low voice said, “Every time I thought we had it, they made a shot or made a play. It was a battle. We threw a punch, they threw a punch. They came right back at us every time.”
The reaction of Virginia’s Ty Jerome was quite full of excitement as he said, “Forget last year. This is everything you dream of since you’re a little kid.”
After their disappointing loss last year, the Cavaliers endured the very same disappointment all throughout the tournament which helped them win the tournament.
Finally after winning the finals of the NCAA tournament, the Virginia Cavaliers finished their journey of redemption. The team not only won the hearts of the crowd with their game, they also managed to get their hands on the trophy, for which each player and the coach Tony Bennett had worked hard.
As the Virginia Cavaliers men’s lacrosse team came into the ground facing Yale, one of the