MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota – Simply stated, Texas Tech ran out of time.
The Red Raiders had their historic season end as the 2019 NCAA Runner-Up despite overcoming a 10-point deficit in the second half to force overtime before Virginia won the national championship with an 85-77 victory on Monday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
“The game was everything we thought it would be,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “I thought it would come down to one last possession, and it did in regulation, and then in overtime it just got away from us a little bit. Nothing but respect for their program, their coaches, their players, their fans. I thought it was a great National Championship Game. In terms of our players, I’ve never been more proud of a team that I’ve coached. There’s a lot of emotion in our locker room right now, and it’s real, just guys that care about the guy next to them.”
Virginia connected on a game-tying 3-pointer with 12 seconds remaining in regulation and then used an 11-0 run in overtime to win its first national title. It was the first championship final to go to overtime since 2008 and the eighth ever. The Red Raiders (31-7) completed their season as the winningest team in program history, the first to win the Big 12 Conference regular-season and the first to advance to the Final Four and national final. Those accomplishments will all be something to cherish, but on Monday as Virginia celebrated the Red Raiders were forced to live the reality of sports.
“Resilience and toughness, everything we are as a team,” Texas Tech senior Norense Odiase said. “It took a lot to get here. We’ve been through a lot together. Total new team one year, and to get here, it took a lot of guts. I’m proud of our team for that, but it doesn’t feel good at all right now.”
Down 53-43 with 10:24 remaining in regulation, Tech started chipping away and had to 59-56 on a Matt Mooney 3-pointer and tied the game with Odiase converting an and-one a minute later. After the Cavaliers pushed its lead back to four, Davide Moretti stepped up and hit a huge 3-pointer to cut it to one and Jarrett Culver gave the Red Raiders their first lead at 66-65 with 35 seconds to play. Tech went up three on a pair of free throws by Odiase before UVA’s De’andre Hunter forced overtime with a corner 3-pointer with 14 seconds remaining.
In overtime, a Mooney 3-pointer and jumper gave the Red Raiders a 73-70 lead before the Cavaliers went on an 11-0 run to take control and secure their program’s first national championship. Tech was limited to 4-for-11 shooting in overtime, including going 1-for-5 on 3-pointers as it was outscored 17-9 in the final five minutes of the game where the Cavaliers went 12-for-12 on free throws in overtime and had a 7-3 rebounding advantage.
“We felt like we had momentum because we came back from about 10,” Culver said. “We for sure felt like we had momentum. Our mindset was just a five-minute game, we’ve been prepared for it, we practice it every day. We just didn’t come out on top tonight.”
Brandone Francis matched a career-high and led the Red Raiders with 17 points after going 7-for-12 with three 3-pointers, while Culver and Moretti had 15 points each. Mooney scored five of his 10 points in overtime, while freshman Kyler Edwards had 12 points after hitting two 3-pointers. Tech finished the game shooting 42.9 percent from the field with 10 3-pointers and limited itself to eight turnovers, but the Cavaliers were able to shoot 45.8 percent from the field against the Red Raider defense and made 11 3s in the game that was tied at 68 after regulation. Culver added nine rebounds and five assists and finishes his sophomore season averaging 18.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.
Hunter led the Cavaliers with 27 points after hitting four 3-pointers and going 7-for-9 at the free-throw line, while Kyle Guy scored 24 and Ty Jerome added 16. The Cavaliers finished the game 11-for-24 from beyond the arc and was 12-for-12 at the free-throw line in overtime. Guy was named the NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player, while Culver and Mooney were named to the All-Tournament Team for the Red Raiders. Hunter led Virginia by scoring 22 of his 27 after halftime and with five in overtime.
Texas Tech trailed 32-29 in a first half where it was down by as many as 10 and leading by four with five minutes to play before halftime. The Red Raiders were 5-for-12 from beyond the arc in the first half after starting the game 0-for-8 before a Moretti 3-pointer stopped 7-0 run and cut the Cavalier lead to 9-6. Virginia had its biggest lead of the half at 17-7 on a pair of free throws before Francis and Edwards hits a pair of 3-pointers to cut it to 17-13. Another Francis 3-pointer followed by Moretti hitting a 3-pointer tied the game at 19 and the Red Raiders would take their first lead of the game at 23-21 on a pair of Edwards free throws. The Cavaliers took a three-point lead into halftime with Ty Jerome hitting a 3-pointer with two seconds on the clock.
Francis and Moretti led the Red Raiders with eight points at halftime, while Edwards adding five and Owens and Culver scoring three each. Francis was 2-for-2 on 3-pointers and 3-for-4 from the field in the first half. Owens was leading the team with four rebounds and also had one blocked shot. The Red Raiders were limited to 8-for-24 shooting (33.3 percent) in the first half, while the Cavaliers were 12-for-29 (41.4 percent) and matched Tech with five 3-pointers. Guy led UVA with 10 points at the break after shooting 4-for-7 from the field with two of the five Cavalier 3-pointers.
Texas Tech’s historic season of 31 wins included winning the Big 12 regular-season championship by going 14-4 in conference play before running off NCAA Tournament wins over Northern Kentucky, Buffalo, Michigan, Gonzaga and Michigan State. The Red Raiders, who advanced to the Elite Eight last season for the first time in program history, continued building and reached the final game of the basketball season by earning a 61-51 win over the Spartans last Saturday in their first-ever Final Four game. The program is now 76-31 under Beard who completed his third season by leading the program to the pinnacle of the sport.
“We’ll bounce back,” Beard said. “In terms of Texas Tech basketball, we’re not going anywhere. We’ll be back in this tournament sooner than later, and we intend to be a part of college basketball as we build the program.
“Just told them I loved them. You know, our relationship is just getting started. I’ll be at those guys’ weddings one day and hopefully when their kids get born and do everything I can to talk them out of getting into coaching so they don’t ever feel like this. You know, I just love those guys.”