NCAA Basketball

Comeback! Cavs get their title, 85-77 in OT over Texas Tech

(AP Photo/Matt York)

By EDDIE PELLS

AP National Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Now that, Virginia, is the way to close out a season.

And quiet those critics, too.

Led by De'Andre Hunter and his NBA-ready game, the Cavaliers turned themselves into national champions Monday night, holding off tenacious, ferocious Texas Tech for an 85-77 overtime win - a scintillating victory that came 388 days after a crushing setback that might have sunk a lesser team for years.

But Virginia was better than that.

A season after becoming the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16 - the one thing that had never happened in a tournament where anything can - the Cavaliers watched a 10-point lead turn into a 3-point deficit before Hunter came to the rescue. The sophomore made the game-tying 3 with 12 seconds left in regulation, then made another with just over two minutes left in the extra period to give the Cavs the lead for good.

"Surreal," Hunter called it. "It's a goal we started out with at the beginning of the season. We knew we were going to bounce back from last year. We achieved our dreams."

After going without a field goal for the first 18 1/2 minutes, Hunter finished with a career-high 27 points, and if he leaves as a lottery pick - well, what a way to go.

He helped the Cavs bring home the first NCAA title for a program with a colorful, star-crossed and, now, very winning history.

Ralph Sampson was in the house, and now it's possible that Sampson and the name "Chaminade" won't be at the top of Virginia's resume anymore.

Or "University of Maryland-Baltimore County." That was the No. 16 seed that stunned the Cavs in the first round last year, its playful social media manager online Monday night tweeting congratulations shortly after the final buzzer. Hunter missed that game with a broken wrist, but nobody thought they'd miss him THAT much.

Each of Virginia's 34 wins leading to the final, and each of its scant three losses, was punctuated by the reminder that only the end result would serve as the ultimate report card on whether the Cavs could truly shed the baggage of last year.

What a ride this was.

A 1 seed once again, they fell behind by 14 early to 16th-seeded Gardner-Webb in this year's opening round, and a nightmare seemed to be repeating itself. But this time, they overcame it. Then, they beat Purdue in the Elite Eight when the game looked lost, and did the same against Auburn on Saturday - getting bailed out by a foul call and Kyle Guy's three free throws with 0.6 seconds left.

"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."

Hunter's key 3 in OT gave Virginia a 75-73 lead, and after the teams traded possessions, Tech guard Davide Moretti scrambled after a loose ball heading onto Virginia's end of the court. It appeared it would be Texas Tech ball, but a replay showed Moretti's pinkie finger had barely scraped the ball. Virginia got possession, and worked the ball into Ty Jerome, who got fouled and made two free throws.

Brandone Francis missed a 3 on the other end, and Virginia pulled away - the first time this game felt remotely comfortable, even after Guy made a 3 to give the Cavs a 10-point lead with 10:22 left in regulation.

Guy is not Virginia's only clutch free-throw shooter, by the way. The Cavs went 12 for 12 from the line in overtime to ice this game. They scored the game's final 11 points.

As for the Red Raiders (31-7), well, what can you say?

The team full of overlooked grinders refused to quit.

They fell behind by 10 twice in this game - seemingly too much in a matchup between two legendary defenses that allowed way more than the total of 118 points predicted by sportsbooks - but just kept coming back.

Jarrett Culver, also lottery-pick material, made a spinning left-handed layup over Hunter with 35 seconds left in regulation to put the Red Raiders ahead 66-65. After Jerome missed a teardrop on the other end, Norense Odiase got fouled and made two free throws to make it 68-65.

The nation's best defense couldn't afford to give up a 3, but Jerome skipped a pass to Hunter, who was open on the wing - and spotted up and drained it. Culver missed a 3 with Guy in his face with a second left, and we were headed to overtime, the first extra session in the final since Kansas beat Memphis in 2008.

"In terms of my guys, I've never been more proud," Red Raiders coach Chris Beard said. "This is real life. We'll bounce back."

The last five minutes of regulation and the OT featured several one-on-one matchups between the two NBA-bound stars, and Hunter came out the winner. He finished 8 for 16 after an 0-for-7 start. Culver, who stayed in his hometown of Lubbock to see how far he could take Tech, went 5 for 22 for 15 points, continuing a cold-shooting Final Four; he went 8 for 34 over the weekend.

Both will likely move on to the NBA. Hunter will go there with a title.

And somebody on Virginia ought to grab that sign.

In the stands, a fan made a cardboard sign with the capital letters "UMBC" running vertically, and this spelled out after each letter:

"Uva."

"Makes."

"Big."

"Comeback."

The Cavs couldn't have written it any better themselves.

---

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/MarchMadness and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Updated April 9, 2019

Sports Data API Powered by STATS © 2019 by STATS.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS is strictly prohibited.

Teams Score Time
NCAA FB
Duke   Sat 4:00pm
North Carolina  
NFL
Carolina   Sun 4:05pm
San Francisco  
NHL
Carolina   7:00pm
Columbus  
Teams Score Time
SMU   7:30pm
Houston  
Appalachian State   Sat 12:00pm
South Alabama  
Iowa   Sat 12:00pm
Northwestern  
Miami   Sat 12:00pm
Pittsburgh  
Oklahoma   Sat 12:00pm
Kansas State  
Wisconsin   Sat 12:00pm
Ohio State  
Auburn   Sat 3:30pm
LSU  
Maryland   Sat 3:30pm
Minnesota  
Oklahoma State   Sat 3:30pm
Iowa State  
Penn State   Sat 3:30pm
Michigan State  
Syracuse   Sat 3:30pm
Florida State  
Texas   Sat 3:30pm
TCU  
Virginia   Sat 3:30pm
Louisville  
Duke   Sat 4:00pm
North Carolina  
Arkansas   Sat 7:00pm
Alabama  
Arizona State   Sat 7:30pm
UCLA  
Boston College   Sat 7:30pm
Clemson  
Notre Dame   Sat 7:30pm
Michigan  
California   Sat 10:00pm
Utah  
Washington State   Sat 10:30pm
Oregon  
Teams Score Time
Interleague
Washington 12 9th
Houston 2
Teams Score Time
Chicago 125 F
Charlotte 126
Cleveland 85 F
Orlando 94
Detroit 119 F
Indiana 110
Boston 93 F
Philadelphia 107
Memphis 101 F
Miami 120
Minnesota 127 F/OT
Brooklyn 126
New York 111 F
San Antonio 120
Washington 100 F
Dallas 108
Oklahoma City 95 F
Utah 100
Denver 73 00:00 3rd
Portland 74
Sacramento 76 00:00 3rd
Phoenix 86
Atlanta   7:00pm
Detroit  
Milwaukee   8:00pm
Houston  
Los Angeles   10:30pm
Golden State  
Teams Score Time
Washington   8:20pm
Minnesota  
Arizona   Sun 1:00pm
New Orleans  
Cincinnati   Sun 1:00pm
Los Angeles  
Denver   Sun 1:00pm
Indianapolis  
Los Angeles   Sun 1:00pm
Chicago  
New York   Sun 1:00pm
Detroit  
New York   Sun 1:00pm
Jacksonville  
Philadelphia   Sun 1:00pm
Buffalo  
Seattle   Sun 1:00pm
Atlanta  
Tampa Bay   Sun 1:00pm
Tennessee  
Carolina   Sun 4:05pm
San Francisco  
Cleveland   Sun 4:25pm
New England  
Oakland   Sun 4:25pm
Houston  
Green Bay   Sun 8:20pm
Kansas City  
Teams Score Time
Detroit 2 F
Ottawa 5
Pittsburgh 2 00:57 3rd
Tampa Bay 3
Arizona   7:00pm
New York  
Buffalo   7:00pm
New York  
Carolina   7:00pm
Columbus  
San Jose   7:00pm
Montreal  
Los Angeles   8:00pm
St. Louis  
Minnesota   8:00pm
Nashville  
Anaheim   8:30pm
Dallas  
Philadelphia   8:30pm
Chicago  
Florida   9:00pm
Calgary  
Washington   9:00pm
Edmonton  
MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES AT KANSAS
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 11 Denny Hamlin 23
2 9 Chase Elliott 14
3 18 Kyle Busch 18
4 1 Kurt Busch 15
5 24 William Byron 25
6 19 Martin Truex Jr 11
7 20 Erik Jones 20
8 14 Clint Bowyer 21
9 4 Kevin Harvick 40
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES AT KANSAS
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 19 Brandon Jones 2
2 2 Tyler Reddick 4
3 98 Chase Briscoe 11
4 1 Michael Annett 38
5 7 Justin Allgaier 7
6 51 Jeremy Clements 6
7 11 Justin Haley 12
8 23 John Hunter Nemechek 15
9 39 Ryan Sieg 13
NASCAR GANDER OUTDOORS TRUCK SERIES AT TALLADEGA
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 20 Spencer Boyd 25
2 4 Todd Gilliland 6
3 51 Riley Herbst 7
4 24 Brett Moffitt 8
5 52 Stewart Friesen 10
6 16 Austin Hill 13
7 17 Tyler Ankrum 2
8 88 Matt Crafton 1
9 2 Sheldon Creed 5