Third-seeded Texas Tech made history Saturday, using its trademark sticky defense to shut down top-seeded Gonzaga’s high-scoring offense and produce a 75-69 win in the West Regional final at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
“We’re trying to build a program at Tech like a Gonzaga,” Red Raiders coach Chris Beard said afterward. “The Final Four is awesome and all that, but the most cool thing is I get to coach these guys again.”
Jarrett Culver scored 19 points to pace the balanced Red Raiders (30-6), who reached the Final Four for the first time in school history. Matt Mooney also hit for 17, including two foul shots with 19.7 seconds left that gave them a four-point lead.
Zach Norvell’s putback with 11.0 seconds remaining pulled the Bulldogs (33-4) within two points, but Josh Perkins was called for a flagrant 1 foul when he reached across the end line and fouled Mooney on the ensuing inbounds pass.
“He tried to grab the ball while I had it out of bounds and hit my arm, and the ref saw it,” Mooney said.
Davide Moretti, who finished with 12 points, canned two foul shots to up the margin to four. Culver added two more free throws with 9.3 seconds on the clock to ice it.
Texas Tech will play either Duke or Michigan State on April 6 in Minneapolis. The Red Raiders played the Blue Devils on Dec. 20, losing 69-58 in Madison Square Garden.
Rui Hachimura scored a game-high 22 points for Gonzaga, which was held 19 points under its season average and made only 42.4 percent from the field, 10.4 percent below its average. Brandon Clarke chipped in 18 points and 12 rebounds, while Perkins scored 16 points and Norvell hit for 10.
“We lost to a really, really, really good basketball team in a great basketball game,” Zags coach Mark Few said. “I thought we had good rhythm in that first half. The game just came down to a couple of plays down the stretch where they made big plays and we just didn’t quite answer.”
The first half was played on Gonzaga’s terms, as it got the faster pace it preferred. The score didn’t quite match the tempo until about 12 minutes into the game, when the Bulldogs started making shots to erase a five-point Texas Tech lead.
Norvell’s 3-pointer with 7:07 left in the half gave Gonzaga a 27-26 lead, and the teams went back-and-forth for the half’s remainder. Clarke got the last say with a dunk 14 seconds before intermission, enabling the Zags to take a 37-35 lead into the locker room.
Gonzaga hit 50 percent of its field goals and owned the boards, 19-10, but the Red Raiders stayed in contention by converting nine turnovers into 10 points. They were also proficient from the 3-point line, making 5 of 13.
“I think Gonzaga made us play like that,” said Texas Tech guard Brandone Francis of the quick pace. “I feel like in the second half we slowed the pace down a little bit and played to our game.”
—Field Level Media