Virginia wins title in dramatic fashion

Parker Kern and Parker Kern

The only times I got up from my couch Monday night were to use the bathroom and to grab an occasional snack. I was encapsulated by the final game of the 2019 NCAA Basketball season, which featured two elite teams vying for their first national title.

The Virginia Cavaliers marched into the title game in 2019, despite being ousted in the Round of 64 last year at the hands of 16-seed UMBC. The Texas Tech Red Raiders rumbled to the National Championship Game this year after making the Elite Eight last year. Both teams came into U.S. Bank Stadium ready to cut down the nets, but only one team emerged as champion.

The game was very close in the first ten minutes and remained that way through the remainder of the first half. There was only a 3-point margin at halftime, which favored Virginia by a score of 32-29.

The second half is where Texas Tech grabbed the momentum, especially late in the game, where they used free throws and 3-pointers to eventually force a tie and head to overtime. Texas Tech was up 66-65 with 22.5 seconds remaining, as Red Raiders center Norense Odiase went 2-for-2 from the free-throw line, giving Texas Tech a 3-point lead.

Virginia’s response to this came in the form of a De’Andre Hunter 3-pointer on the other end, which tied the game 68-68 with 13 seconds left. After several missed potential game-winning field goal attempts by Texas Tech, the game went into overtime. This is when the eventual national champion Cavaliers began to take control.

Following a brief Texas Tech run to take a 73-70 lead less than two minutes into overtime, Virginia clamped down for the remainder of the extra period to suffocate Texas Tech offensively – and eventually seal the game. The Cavs ended up winning by 8 points with a final score of 85-77.

Both teams made the same number of shots during the game – Texas Tech shot 27-63 (42.9%) and Virginia shot 27-59 (45.8%). The key difference in this game was free throws. Virginia only made one more 3-pointer than Texas Tech did, but they went 20-23 from the free throw line, as opposed to Tech’s 13-15. The free throw percentages were exemplary for both teams, but Virginia got to the line eight more times and converted 87% of their attempts, which helped them to become national champions.

This game was a tremendous finish to an excellent NCAA Tournament – one filled with bracket-busting upsets, powerhouses going home early, emerging star players and one shining moment for the Virginia Cavaliers. I don’t know about you, but I’m already looking forward to next season.