LOS ANGELES (AFP) – The University of Virginia captured its first US men’s college basketball championship on Monday night, with a 27-point performance from De’Andre Hunter to beat Texas Tech, 85-77, in overtime.
Hunter led the offensive charge for the Cavaliers making a game-tying three-pointer with 12 seconds left in regulation and then another three with just over two minutes remaining in overtime to give Virginia the lead for good.
Virginia claimed the NCAA crown one year after becoming the first No. 1 seeded team to be knocked out of the NCAA tournament by the 16th seeded team when they lost (74-54) in the opening round to unheralded University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
After going scoreless for the first 18 minutes at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Hunter finished with a career-high 27 points.
Kyle Guy finished with 24 points, made four three-pointers and was named most outstanding player.
“We all had the same goal in mind and that was to win the national championship. To battle through everything we did and come out on top is a fantastic feeling,” said Guy.
It was the second heart-stopping victory for Virginia in a row as they needed a last-second escape to beat Auburn in the semis on Saturday.
This was the third Final Four appearance for the Cavaliers and first since 1984.
Number three seeded Texas Tech was seeking its first title in school history and to become the first team since the 1999 University of Connecticut to go undefeated in its first appearance in the final four.
Brandone Francis had 17 points off the bench to lead Texas Tech. Jarrett Culver and Italy’s Davide Moretti each had 15 in the loss.
The Red Raiders beat Michigan in the semifinals, 61-51.