Virginia completes epic journey from last year’s ugly exit to win its first title

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MINNEAPOLIS — Only college basketball could give us something so storybook — too rich for movies; too perfect for documentaries — like Virginia winning the 2019 NCAA championship.

On Monday night inside U.S. Bank Stadium, UVA coach Tony Bennett, humbly seated on his stool, dropped his head in blissful victory, the weight of his own desires and dreams finally vaporizing around him, as the game clock expired and these Virginia Cavaliers completed the greatest redemption arc in college hoops history.

Virginia’s 85-77 overtime triumph against Texas Tech and its No. 1-rated defense came in an undeniably epic, and historic, 2019 national title game, just the eighth ever to require OT. Virginia’s first championship in school history and Bennett’s first title as a coach completes the circle, the curvature of which started on March 16, 2018, when No. 1 overall seed UVA lost by 20 points to No. 16 UMBC and became the most infamous loser in NCAA Tournament history.

De’Andre Hunter scored 27 and Kyle Guy added 24 for Virginia in the first national title game to go to overtime since Kansas beat Memphis in 2008. Virginia, which went 12-for-12 on free throws in overtime, is also the first first-time champion since Florida in 2006. Both Virginia and Texas Tech were playing in the NCAA final for the first time. Brandone Francis led the Red Raiders with 17 points.

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