Texas Tech 75, Gonzaga 69
When: 6:09 PM ET, Saturday, March 30, 2019
Where: Honda Center, Anaheim
Recaps for Digital Sports Desk by Field Level Media
ANAHEIM – 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.
“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
Virginia 80, Purdue 75
When: 8:49 PM ET, Saturday, March 30, 2019
Where: KFC Yum! Center, Louisville
LOUISVILLE – Virginia needed a wild buzzer-beating play to force overtime and had to survive a scoring onslaught by Purdue guard Carsen Edwards to advance to its first Final Four since 1984.
The top-seeded Cavaliers beat the third-seeded Boilermakers 80-75 in the NCAA Tournament’s South Region in Louisville, Ky., on Saturday night.
“There was a burning desire to get these guys and our program to a Final Four and hopefully beyond,” said Virginia coach Tony Bennett.
Edwards scored 42 points but missed a potential go-ahead 3-pointer with nine seconds left in overtime. Kyle Guy corralled the rebound and was fouled with 5.7 seconds left. He made both to make it 78-75.
On the ensuing possession, Edwards passed the ball from halfcourt, but the pass went out of bounds along the sideline with 2.1 seconds left. Kihei Clark’s two free throws sealed the win.
“Obviously, a special performance by Carsen,” said Purdue coach Matt Painter.
“It’s exciting when you beat somebody like Tennessee to get into the Elite Eight … and then you play a game that see-saws like it did against Virginia, and you don’t get a couple of breaks and they make a special play at the end. That’s part of competition.
“The other night was pretty cool. Today sucks.”
Virginia (33-3) will play the winner of Sunday’s Midwest Region final between second-seeded Kentucky and No. 5 Auburn.
Purdue (26-10) led 70-67 when it fouled Ty Jerome with 5.9 seconds to go, sending him to the line in a one-and-one situation. He made the first and missed the second, with Virginia’s Mamadi Diakite tipping the ball all the way into the backcourt.
Clark chased it down and fired a pass back to Diakite, whose buzzer-beating 8-foot jumper from just outside the lane sent the game into overtime.
“Kihei made the play of the century by finding Mamadi,” Jerome said.
“It was just unbelievable,” Diakite said.
“So improbable,” Bennett said.
It’s all especially sweet for Virginia, which last season became the first No. 1 seed in NCAA Tournament history to lose to a 16 seed.
“We’re just so happy. We worked so hard for this,” Guy said. “We’ve come so far. With the way last year ended, everyone probably counted us out. But, man, I’m so proud of our guys.”
Guy counter-punched with Edwards, scoring 21 of his 25 points after intermission with five 3-pointers. He went 3 for 3 from behind the arc in the first five minutes of the second half to turn a 30-29 halftime deficit into a 41-34 lead.
Guy also grabbed 10 rebounds, while Jerome scored 24 points.
Edwards, who averaged 34.8 points in four NCAA Tournament games, made 14 of 25 shots from the field, including 10 of 19 from 3-point range. He shot from increasing distance in the second half against a Virginia defense that entered the game as the stingiest in the nation, allowing 54.8 points per game.
He even banked in a trey with 1:10 to go in regulation for a 69-67 lead.
“I just felt pretty comfortable,” he said. “Never do I feel like I need to carry the team, because we’re all putting everything into the game. … It’s just I felt good and had rhythm on the shots I was taking, and they were just able to go in.”
Virginia led 74-73 after De’Andre Hunter made two free throws with 1:43 to go in overtime. Edwards drove the lane to make a short shot with 42.4 seconds to go, but Hunter responded with a drive of his own as the Cavaliers reclaimed a 76-75 lead with 28 seconds left.
Edwards worked to get a step-back 3-point attempt with nine seconds to go but the shot went off the rim.
“I told him after the game that I have a lot of respect for him and that he’s a bad dude,” Guy said. “I have never witnessed anything like that.”
–Field Level Media