The Texas Tech Red Raiders lost yet another home heartbreaker, this time to West Virginia in overtime. But in reality, Tech was fortunate to even be in it at halftime. The Red Raiders played one of their most ragged and uninspired halves of the season to open the game, yet trailed by only six points.
In that opening half it seemed as though Tech was forever on the ropes, trying desperately to stay upright and maintain contact with the Mountaineers. And it was West Virginia's tenacious and physical defense that was causing problems for the Red Raiders.
Tech shot only 40 percent from the floor in the first stanza, committed nine turnovers and recorded only five assists. Leading scorer Jaye Crockett tallied only five points as well. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers repeatedly beat the Red Raiders down the court for easy buckets and led in fast break points nine to two.
Still, timely three-point shooting from Toddrick Gotcher and workmanlike inside scoring from Jordan Tolbert kept the Red Raiders within striking distance. What could have been a 15-point WVU lead was only six as Tech trailed 39-33 going into the break.
The second half was a battle royal and then some. The Red Raiders found their stroke, particularly from deep, where they shot 57 percent, and slowly, inexorably mounted an arduous assault on the Mountaineers' lead, which they yielded only grudgingly.
Proceedings began poorly for the home team, though. Crockett picked up his third foul only 45 seconds into the half, and after an Eron Harris trey with 18:44 remaining, WVU had built their lead to 11.
But that's when Tech began to heat up. Dusty Hannahs, who finished with 14 points, drilled a three-pointer to pull the Red Raiders to within seven with 15 minutes left to play in regulation. He followed the trifecta with a putback and a layup to whittle the lead to three with 13:41 remaining. Two Tolbert free throws pulled Tech to within one with 11:52 showing on the clock. Crockett's jumper with 3:55 remaining tied the score at 68, and exactly one minute later his layup gave Tech its first lead since the 15:54 mark of the first half.
And the Red Raiders weren't done. After the lead seesawed back and forth, Crockett snatched a defensive board off of a Barry Watkins missed jumper and hit streaking Robert Turner with a perfect outlet pass. Turner missed the layup but was fouled and knocked down both freebies, giving the Red Raiders a 77-74 lead with :27 left to play.
Victory was not in the cards, however, as WVU's Terry Henderson drained a 26-footer with 18 seconds left to tie the game. Dusty Hannahs' was unable to answer with a trey of his own and the game went into overtime.
Even though Tech lost by only three in overtime, the OT session was dominated by the Mountaineers. West Virginia never trailed and scored at least one point on every trip down the court. Nevertheless, Crockett had a chance to send it into double overtime, but his three-pointer, like Hannahs' at the end of regulation, didn't find the twine.
Ultimately, what doomed the Red Raiders was their inability to get stops down the stretch, both in regulation and in overtime. Tubby Smith used a little more zone than man-to-man, but West Virginia consistently scored when they had to, regardless of the defense. Tech could not keep Juwan Staten (25 points and five assists) away from the tin, and could not close down the deep stuff either, as the Mountaineers hit 42 percent of their treys.
Tech got great performances out of Tolbert who put up 18 and 12, and Gotcher who scored 17 points and dished out five assists. At this point it is becoming clear that Gotcher is actually Tech's best option as a backup point guard to Robert Turner. Randy Onwuasor had his second poor game in a row, and is showing that the Big 12 is no place for a two guard to learn the point.
Tech Falls to West Virginia in Overtime
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