On December 23, 1982, Chaminade, an NAIA school with only 900 students, beats top-ranked Virginia and 7-foot-4 center Ralph Sampson, 77-72, in Honolulu in one of the greatest upsets in sports history. “Not too many people get to beat the No. 1 team in the nation,” Chaminade coach Merv Lopes tells reporters afterward. “What we did was amazing.”
Virginia cruised through its first eight games, beating a Georgetown team that featured Patrick Ewing and a Houston team led by Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. Although Virginia’s game against Chaminade took place in the Silverswords’ home state of Hawaii, no one expected them to beat the Cavaliers.
At halftime, the score was tied at 43. In the second half, it appeared Virginia might win easily after it took a seven-point lead. But Chaminade took a 70-68 lead with 1:37 left and never trailed again.
“When you’re not playing well on offense, your defense has to come through for you and we just didn’t do well enough to stop them,” Virginia coach Terry Holland told reporters.
When the final score first was reported to them, ESPN’s Chris Berman and Tom Mees, who hosted SportsCenter, thought it was a mistake. Then the score was confirmed again. “We can’t tell you what happened, but the No. 1 team in college basketball has lost to—we don’t even know who they are,” Berman recalled saying on the broadcast.
In March that season, the Cavaliers lost twice to Jim Valvano’s North Carolina State team—first in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament final and then in the NCAA tournament.