It was truly David vs Goliath. For the first time ever in NCAA tournament history, a number one seed was defeated in the opening round. The University of Maryland Baltimore County Retrievers defeated the Virginia Cavaliers 74-54.
It was a very scrappy first half with neither team establishing a clear advantage, with both teams going into the locker room tied at 21. What ensued during the second half was just pure magic.
The Retrievers started the half on a big run, with UVA’s defense struggling to find an answer. One of the major problems for UVA, was guarding UMBC’s Jarius Lyles. It seemed whatever he was putting up, it was going in.
On the other end of the court, the Cavaliers seemed as though that they had a lid on their rim. Nothing that they were shooting was going in, and you could feel the pressure that was beginning to build for the Cavs. Suddenly with around eight minutes left in the game, the Spectrum Center started to build up with cheers, when UMBC has their largest lead of the game at that time. Fans from the previous games realized they had a chance to witness history.
UVA tried to mount a comeback but whenever they would make a big shot, the Retrievers answered right back with one of their own. Once Isaiah Wilkins fouled out with around three minutes in the game, people realized that history was going to happen.
When that final buzzer blew the Spectrum Center erupted in applauses. Even fans from UVA were applauding because it is one heck of a feat for a team to make history when no one says you have a chance.
After the game Tony Bennett described it best by saying “the better team won and we were just outplayed.”
The Cavaliers locker room was a somber place and absolutely quiet.
Senior Isaiah Wilkins described how he was feeling by saying “I’m not mad, I’m sad.”
You could feel the hurt that seniors felt but you could feel it more from the guys that are returning next season. They felt as though that they had let the seniors down.
Many people think that if De’Andre Hunter was healthy, that the Hoo’s would have won. I don’t think that would have been the case. UMBC was just the better team and they shot absolutely lights out in that second half.
UVA finishes this season with an overall record of 31-3, and as the ACC regular season and tournament champions. The season should not be ashamed of the season that they had. This team went from unranked to number one in the nation. No one gave them the chance to do half of the things that they did this season. Knowing Tony Bennett, this team will be back and even better next season than they were this year.