Coach Tony Bennett couldn’t explain it any better Friday night.
His Virginia Cavaliers, who became the first No. 1 seed to fall to a No. 16 in NCAA tournament history, simply were outmatched.
“We got our butts whipped,” Bennett told CBS after the Cavaliers’ 74-54 loss to the UMBC Retrievers. “That was not even close. And that’s first a credit to the job Ryan [Odom] did. Coach Odom, their offense was very hard to guard. They shot it well. We kept getting broken down and did a poor job.”
Virginia entered the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed after going 31-2 in the regular season, including 20-1 in ACC competition.
“I told our guys we had a historic season,” Bennett said. “Historic season in terms of most wins in the ACC.”
“A week ago we’re cutting down the nets and confetti is falling,” Bennett said. “And then we make history by being the first 1-seed to lose. I’m sure a lot of people will be happy about that, and it stings. But, trying to tell the guys in there, this is life. It can’t define you. You enjoy the good times, and you got to be able to take the bad times.”
And this wasn’t the first time Virginia struggled as the No. 1 seed. The Cavaliers trailed by five at halftime in 2014 to Coastal Carolina but went on to win 70-59.
“When you step into the arena and you’re in the arena, the consequences can be historic losses, tough losses, great wins and you have to deal with that,” Bennett said in the interview with CBS. “That’s the job.
“I don’t know what to say but that. That was a thorough butt-whooping.”
For his part, UMBC coach Ryan Odom reflected similar thoughts — from the other side of the court.
“We played out of our minds, which we have to do in this situation,” Odom said in a phone interview with ESPN’s Jeff Goodman. “The most impressive thing was our poise and our defense.”
Odom said he told the team a story before the game about coming to the same arena after he was on the Charlotte staff that was let go in 2015. He was left tickets from Virginia AD Craig Littlepage and watched Virginia play Belmont next to his father, Dave, and how now he has a chance to coach his team at the same place — for two games.
“We’ve gotta get the kids to bed, but that’s going to be easier said than done,” Odom said. “How am I going to get to sleep? We’re going to have to block out what just happened and focus on the next task, and that’s not going to be easy.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.