After falling to 16-seed Maryland-Baltimore County in the opening round of last years NCAA Tournament, Tony Bennett and his Virginia Cavaliers came full circle, knocking off Texas Tech 85-77 in overtime.
Bennett and his Cavaliers were the laughing-stock of the college basketball world a year ago, but they used it as a lesson and worked even harder, winning the schools first ever championship.
Bennett handled the loss with grace a year ago and he handled the championship win with grace last night. And he’s more thankful than ever.
“I’m thankful in a way for what happened because it did, it drew me closer, most importantly, to my faith in the Lord, drew me closer to my wife and children, just because you realize what’s unconditional,” Bennett said. “In those spots when the world’s telling you you’re a failure, you’re a loser, and you’re the worst thing going and all that stuff, you say, ‘OK, what really matters?’ And it pushed me to that in a way.”
De’Andre Hunter led the Cavaliers with 27 points and Kyle Guy added 24. Guy was named the Final Four’s most outstanding player and said they wouldn’t have done this with any other coach.
Tony Bennett’s father, Dick Bennett, did not attend Virginia’s semifinal game against Auburn because of anxiety issues. But he was there for the finale on Monday night.
“I’m so glad he came to that last game,” Tony Bennett said. ” I wasn’t sure. It’s great to be able to share this stuff with your dad and family. His impact has been huge on me.”
After the game, Dick Bennett said he attended the championship game to be there for his son if things went poorly.
“I had to be here,” Dick Bennett said. “I thought it was more important to be here in cast they lost.”
Dick Bennett led the Badgers to a Final Four appearance with Wisconsin in 2000. Now he was able to watch his son win it all in 2019.
Brandone Francis led the Red Raiders with 17 points off the bench. One of the Red Raiders top players, Jarrett Culver had 15 points but hit just 5 of 22 shots from the field. Texas Tech fell short in their first men’s national title game in school history.