Tortilla forces stoppage in NCAA title game

A tortilla was thrown onto the court for Texas Tech vs. Virginia

That changed at halftime of Monday's national championship game, and his metamorphosis carried the top-seeded Cavaliers to their ever title, 85-77, over No. 3 Texas Tech at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The Cavaliers were the first No. 1 seed to fall in Round 1 after losing to 16-seed UMBC in 2018. They managed to right their wrong this season with wins over Gardner-Webb, Oklahoma, Oregon, Purdue, and Auburn before clinching the title against Texas Tech.

After going scoreless 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. That, I think, has prepared you for this moment to be able to handle the pressure or the intensity of a national championship game.

Virginia won, 85-77, for a odd reason: Texas Tech blew a defensive gasket.

"With a 3-point lead. we're trying to play really sound defense with three objectives: No 3-point shots, no 'and-ones, ' and we've got to secure the defensive rebounds, " Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said.

The only truly satisfying answer to "Why?" came Monday night - and with the confetti falling and the nets dangling around their necks, it all seemed so clear.

Virginia's "big three" of Hunter, Guy and Jerome - who all came to Charlottesville in the same recruiting class - led the Cavaliers to victory.

Guy is not Virginia's only clutch free-throw shooter, by the way.

This is a program that has lived a tortured existence, starting around Christmastime in 1982, when 7-foot-4 Ralph Sampson - as good as they came back in his day - was headlining the top-ranked Cavaliers on a stopover trip in Hawaii, only to get shocked by tiny, NAIA Chaminade.

At one point, a fan threw a tortilla - a Texas Tech school tradition - that landed on the elevated court, causing play to stop temporarily. "But if you're willing, we'll take a chance.' That's why I mentioned the Rocky poster, I said I want guys who want a chance at a title fight".

"I just tried to be aggressive", said Hunter.

"Everybody counted us out all year", said senior forward Tariq Owens, who started despite a painful ankle sprain.

Jerome found Guy on a no-look pass for a three to get Virginia's lead to ten, 53-43 with 10:22 to go, but two consecutive layups from Moretti made it a six-point game. He added seven rebounds and one assist. "So I just knew we needed each other". And coach Tony Bennett has told his team that everyone would watch to see how they responded.

Then Virginia almost got knocked out of the tournament in the Elite 8 against Purdue on March 30, but a late comeback gave Virginia an overtime win.



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