MINNEAPOLIS -- Overcoming a late deficit for the third straight game, and gaining the ultimate redemption for last year's historic loss, the Virginia Cavaliers won the school's first national championship in men's basketball with a 85-77 overtime win over Texas Tech.
De'Andre Hunter had a career high 27 points, including the tying basket in regulation and the go-ahead basket in overtime, to lead all scorers. Kyle Guy added 24 points and Ty Jerome 16.
"I was aggressive in the first half, but my shots just weren't falling," Hunter who scored 17 of his points after halftime, said. "I just tried to do the same thing in the second half and my shots started falling."
"He (Hunter) really showed an aggressiveness that we needed," Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said. "You need your top players to step up and make plays and he did on both ends."
"He's a pro," Texas Tech Red Raiders head coach Chris Beard said of Hunter. "We could have scrambled at him and ran at him a little bit more, and that might be a coaching mistake, but we were dialed in. We knew who he was. He just hit a lot of tough shots."
UVa. led by as many as nine the second half before the Red Raiders stormed back to take a three point lead with 22 seconds to play. Hunter tied the game at 68 sending the game to overtime.
This was the 5th overtime game of this year's NCAA tournament and the first in the final game since Kansas beat Memphis in 2008.
"Coach Bennett tells us 'Don't grow weary in doing good,'" Jerome said. "That's our mindset every game, every play. This is the most special team I've ever been on."
"They stepped in the moment," Bennett added. "They faced pressure through the year, through the tournament, and all that stuff played into it."
Texas Tech was led by 17 points off the bench for Brandone Francis.
"Just never been more proud of a group," Coach Beard continued. "A lot of emotion in our locker room right now, and it's real, just guys that care about the guy next to them."
UVa made 11 three-pointers and shot 46% from the field against one of the best defenses in the country.
"Every game we've had, it's been a battle," Mamade Diakite, who had 9 points and 7 rebounds in the win, said. "Once we knew we were going to overtime, we knew we were going to have it. That's it, man. We're champions!!!"
The win comes 388 days after many of these same players suffered through the first #1 seed to lose to a #16 seed when they were bounced out of the first round of last year's tournament by UMBC.
"Forget last year," Jerome said. "This is everything you dream of since you were a little kid. Not a lot of people get along like we do, so to be able to share this moment with them is unbelievable."
"That can only mature you," Bennett said of last year's loss. "I don't know of anything else that would allow these guys to handle this situation, to have a perspective and a poise and a resiliency unless they went through something that hard."
"We came in together and said we were going to win a national championship," Guy said of Jerome and Hunter. "To be able to hug each other with confetti going everywhere and say that we did it is the greatest feeling I've had in basketball."
UVa won their 35th game which sets a school record. They are now 35-22 all-time in the NCAA tournament and 18-6 all-time as a number 1 seed.
The Cavaliers opened a 10 point lead in the first half, only to see the Red Raiders go on an 18-4 run. UVa answered with their own 11-4 run and closed out the half on a Ty Jerome 3 to lead 32-29 at the break. The Cavaliers finish the season 28-0 this year when leading at the half.
This was the first NCAA Division One national basketball title for any team in Virginia. This was also the 40th anniversary of the last time two teams without a title game appearance had met to decide the championship. In 1979, Larry Bird (Indiana St.) and Magic Johnson (Michigan St.) met in the final with the Spartans prevailing.