Fan reaction: Charlottesville celebrates its first-ever national basketball title

For the first time in school history — and after years of NCAA Tournament heartbreak — the University of Virginia and the city of Charlottesville is celebrating a national basketball championship.

The Virginia Cavaliers triumphed over Texas Tech in a 85-77 overtime thriller, sparking revelry within John Paul Jones Arena described by WTOP’s Kristi King as nothing short of euphoric and deafening.

Hundreds of fans rushed the court in the minutes after the game was called, with fans dancing and singing beneath a Jumbotron still carrying a live feed of their team thousands of miles away in Minneapolis.

Excitement that had been building for hours before the game boiled over into the streets immediately after the win.

In the middle of the intersection on 13th and Wertland streets, overjoyed crowds set fire to a couch as dozens climbed onto the roofs of homes and cheered — a sacrifice, one fan said, serving as tribute to the long-awaited victory: “The team gave us a lot tonight, and we had to give them something back.”

King caught up with a group of graduate students after the game. One described anxiously sitting on the edge of her seat. Another said she was pumping her fist so strongly in the air, she became concerned she’d throw her phone.

It wasn’t just Charlottesville residents celebrating, either. Monday night’s game brought in people from all over the region.

“I’ve never watched a single game of basketball in my entire life until this season — college, pro or anything,” said Jessica Williams, a D.C. resident whose daughter is in her first year at U.Va. “This season, I’m suddenly obsessed. My husband thinks I’ve gone right over the edge.”

A more formal celebration is planned around the team’s return to Charlottesville on Saturday, April 13 at 2 p.m. at Scott Stadium. Virginia Athletics says the main surface lot will be open to fans by 4 p.m., with players expected to arrive between 4:45 and 5 p.m.

A ceremonial, celebratory couch is burned by U.Va. fans in Charlottesville at 13th and Wertland Streets near The Corner.

People climbed onto roofs to watch a couch burn, ignited as a “sacrifice” to the Cavaliers by some Charlottesville residents.

From left: Brooks Bradshaw, Ryan Powell and Johnny Rock Wilson watch the game from Charlottesville.

Maria Pike of Falls Church and Deb Micocci of Alexandria happy with the 3-point shot closing the first half with U. Va. ahead. (WTOP/Kristi King)

Annie Anderson and Olivia Sahid get into the game.

Zulmira Yusuf and Subi Aikebaier rushed the floor after the big victory. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Zulmira Yusuf and Subi Aikebaier rushed the floor after the big victory. (WTOP/Kristi King)

Post-win jubilation is seen at the U.Va. John Paul Jones Arena viewing party. (WTOP/Kristi King)

(WTOP/Kristi King)
From Silver Spring, this pair almost hopped in the car to drive to see the game, but came to Charlotteville instead. Mom Venessa Gillon let Mary Gillon, 11, skip her 5th grade classes at St. Bernadette. (WTOP/Kristi King)
From Silver Spring, this pair almost hopped in the car to drive to see the game, but came to Charlotteville instead. Mom Venessa Gillon let Mary Gillon, 11, skip her 5th grade classes at St. Bernadette. (WTOP/Kristi King)

Virginia fans celebrate their team's win in the championship of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against Texas Tech Monday, April 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Virginia fans celebrate their team’s win in the championship of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against Texas Tech Monday, April 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Virginia fans celebrate their teams win of the championship of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against Texas Tech, at a bar near the school in Richmond, Va., Monday, April 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Virginia fans celebrate their teams win of the championship of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against Texas Tech Monday, April 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Virginia fans celebrate their team's win in the championship of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against Texas Tech Monday, April 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Virginia fans celebrate their team’s win in the championship of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against Texas Tech Monday, April 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Virginia fans celebrate their team's win in the championship of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against Texas Tech, at an intersection near the school in Richmond, Va., Monday, April 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Virginia fans celebrate their team’s win in the championship of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against Texas Tech Monday, April 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Virginia fans celebrate their team's win in the championship of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against Texas Tech, at an intersection near the school in Richmond, Va., Monday, April 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Virginia fans celebrate their team’s win in the championship of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against Texas Tech Monday, April 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Siblings Ana and Adi Shrikanth. "As a fourth year now it's really exciting (be)cause it's the last opportunity for this to happen, it's really awesome," Adi said. (WTOP/Kristi King)
WTOP radio editor Ana Srikanth with her brother, Adi. “As a fourth year now it’s really exciting (be)cause it’s the last opportunity for this to happen, it’s really awesome,” Adi said. (WTOP/Kristi King)

Nervous fans as Texas Tech pulls ahead by 2 at :35. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Nervous fans as Texas Tech pulls ahead by 2 at :35. (WTOP/Kristi King)

Popcorn and ice cream salesmen might have had some of the best seats in the house.

Betty and Cathy Jarman. Betty wants you to know she’s cheering with 75 years of perspective. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Betty and Cathy Jarman cheer. Betty wants you to know she’s cheering with 75 years of perspective. (WTOP/Kristi King)

U.Va graduate students studying to be Spanish teachers. One described anxiously sitting on the edge of her seat during the game. Another said she was pumping her fist so strongly in the air, she became concerned she’d throw her phone. (WTOP/Kristi King)
U.Va graduate students studying to be Spanish teachers. One described anxiously sitting on the edge of her seat during the game. Another said she was pumping her fist so strongly in the air, she became concerned she’d throw her phone. (WTOP/Kristi King)

U.Va Blue Ridge Campus Ministry says of the basketball team: “We’re like a family. They’re like our brothers.”

Third-year Tiffany Perry of Laurel, Maryland is a fan.

(1/21)
Zulmira Yusuf and Subi Aikebaier rushed the floor after the big victory. (WTOP/Kristi King)
From Silver Spring, this pair almost hopped in the car to drive to see the game, but came to Charlotteville instead. Mom Venessa Gillon let Mary Gillon, 11, skip her 5th grade classes at St. Bernadette. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Virginia fans celebrate their team's win in the championship of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against Texas Tech Monday, April 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Virginia fans celebrate their teams win of the championship of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against Texas Tech, at a bar near the school in Richmond, Va., Monday, April 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Virginia fans celebrate their team's win in the championship of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against Texas Tech Monday, April 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Virginia fans celebrate their team's win in the championship of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against Texas Tech, at an intersection near the school in Richmond, Va., Monday, April 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Virginia fans celebrate their team's win in the championship of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against Texas Tech, at an intersection near the school in Richmond, Va., Monday, April 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Siblings Ana and Adi Shrikanth. "As a fourth year now it's really exciting (be)cause it's the last opportunity for this to happen, it's really awesome," Adi said. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Nervous fans as Texas Tech pulls ahead by 2 at :35. (WTOP/Kristi King)
Betty and Cathy Jarman. Betty wants you to know she’s cheering with 75 years of perspective. (WTOP/Kristi King)
U.Va graduate students studying to be Spanish teachers. One described anxiously sitting on the edge of her seat during the game. Another said she was pumping her fist so strongly in the air, she became concerned she’d throw her phone. (WTOP/Kristi King)

WTOP’s Kristi King reported from Charlottesville, Virginia.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital reporter and editor in June 2018. He is a writer and photojournalist focusing on politics, political activism and national affairs, with recent multimedia contributions to Reuters, MSNBC and PBS.

Rob Woodfork

Rob Woodfork is a versatile broadcaster with a broad range of experience. He can be heard in in WTOP's traffic center and on the Sports Desk and his byline is on WTOP.com as a web writer/editor and sports columnist.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up