Texas Tech moves to Final Four
Red Raiders’ defense stifles top-seeded Gonzaga
Texas Tech is heading to its first Final Four thanks to a kid from Italy who made the big shots and a defense that refuses to rest.
Davide Moretti opened up a late lead with the two most important 3-pointers of his life, Tariq Owens came up with a big rejection and the Red Raiders caught a ride straight to Minneapolis with a 75-69 victory over top-seeded Gonzaga on Saturday in Anaheim, Calif.
Moretti also made all four of his free throws down the stretch to wind up with 10 of his 12 points over the final 1:50.
The first of them —a spot-up 3-pointer from the side of the arc— gave third-seeded Texas Tech (30-6) a six-point lead, its biggest of the night, with 1:50.
Six might not seem like much. But then again, not every defense is like the one coach Chris Beard draws up, and demands, out of the transfers and second-choice players he started bringing to Lubbock when he arrived three seasons ago. Nobody’s overlooking them now. With Texas Tech leading 68-62 and less than a minute remaining, Owens swooped over to the sideline to reject Gonzaga’s NBA-bound star, Rui Hachimura, and put an exclamation point of sorts on a celebration that was just getting warmed up.
Gonzaga (33-4), which spent a good chunk of the season atop the AP Top 25, pulled within 71-69 on Zach Norvell Jr.’s putback with 11 seconds left. But Josh Perkins reached over the end line and swatted the ball out of Matt Mooney’s hand as he was inbounding for a technical.
Moretti did the honors — sinking the technical free throws, then two more after Gonzaga fouled in desperation.
Jarrett Culver led the Red Raiders with 19 points, and Mooney, a transfer from South Dakota State, had 17.
But, as usual, the biggest stats came on defense. Texas Tech held the Bulldogs’ nation-leading offense to 42 percent shooting and forced it into 16 turnovers — nearly six more than their season average.
Freshman forward Cam Reddish will be a game-time decision for Duke’s Elite Eight NCAA Tournament game Sunday against Michigan State because of a knee injury.
Coach Mike Krzyzewski updated Reddish’s status Saturday before the Blue Devils’ practice, saying there was no structural damage. Reddish was a late scratch for the Sweet 16 victory against Virginia Tech.
Reddish said his left knee has been bothering him for some time and that he tweaked it before the game. Reddish said he considers himself hour to hour as he gets treatment for the injury.
Top-seeded Duke beat Virginia Tech without Reddish thanks in large part to Alex O’Connell filling his spot. Reddish is Duke’s third-leading scorer behind stars RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson, averaging 13.6 points this season.
Duke’s Reddish questionable:
Fred Hoiberg, the former NBA player who coached Iowa State and the Bulls, was hired Saturday to coach a Nebraska team that had big hopes this season but finished with a 19-17 record. Hoiberg, dismissed by the Bulls in in December, agreed to a seven-year contract paying a total of $25 million. Hoiberg, 46, was born in Lincoln and grandfather Jerry Bush was the Cornhuskers coach from 1954 to 1963 . ... Kansas G Charlie Moore has decided to transfer after an uneventful season with the Jayhawks. Moore began his career at California. Jayhawks coach Bill Self said Moore, who is from Chicago, indicated he wanted to transfer closer to his family.