Mountaineers Climb Over Raiders to Elite 8

<p> Late chances gone awry and Ronald Ross' first game scoring less than 20 points in post-season play this year hurt the Red Raiders badly in their Sweet 16 appearance against West Virginia as the Mountaineers prevailed, 65-60. <p>Tech shot 43 percent from the field, but the Mountaineers sank 49 percent of their field goal tries in the victory. West Virginia collected two dozen rebounds while Tech yanked down 30 boards as a team.

West Virginia advances to the Elite 8 for the first time since their appearance in the national finals in 1959. Texas Tech finishes its season in Albuquerque, a victim of a last-half-minute meltdown. The Red Raiders' Devonne Giles fouled out with 47.6 seconds left and Mountaineer freshman Frank Young earned respect with big plays late.

Raider hero Ross ran out of time and missed a pair of treys as the final 17 seconds unreeled. He had perhaps his least effective game in March Thursday night, unable to find his shot from the field throughout; in the second half he made a conscious decision to run for the rack and scored 10 points, but the adjustment proved too little too late.

Junior Kevin Pittsnogle, meanwhile, could do no wrong for West Virginia. In the second half, he scored 15 points, doing everything from sinking a three to driving for a dunk to shooting perfectly from the charity stripe. Helped by Mike Gansey, who had led West Virginia scorers in the first half, Pittsnogle just kept bringing his team back. West Virginia led early on a spate of treys from Gansey and Patrick Bielein; the Red Raiders fell behind 22-14 before untracking the defense. Pittsnogle put up the first seven Mountaineer points, then Gansey dropped in back-to-back bombs from three-point country while Tech couldn't hand onto a rebound.

Martin Zeno started the comeback for the Red Raiders at the 9:31 mark of the first half when he took a pass, spun backward then forward then somehow completed the shot successfully. Helping him, his Tech teammates tightened up their defense and held West Virginia to two points for more than eight minutes. While that progressed on the defensive end of the court, Jarrius Jackson contributed four points on consecutive jumpers, Ross hit one, and Tech's only trey of the first half came from Curtis Marshall. At the half the score was knotted, 32-all, with Giles leading all scorers at 10 points.

In the second half the Mountaineers made an adjustment and scored on a backdoor opening, they hadn't exploited during the opening stanza. Giles collected his third foul of the game; Ross missed another jumper and Darryl Dora thundered through the Mountaineer defense to snag the rebound and stick the put-back. On the very next play, Giles picked up his fourth personal, limiting his aggressiveness for the balance of the game. Pittsnogle dropped in his free throw – and then Ross went off.

On consecutive plays the former walk-on stole the ball, raced coast-to-coast, and slammed home a dunk; West Virginia's Darris Nichols briefly interrupted Tech's one-man fireworks show, but as the clock dropped below 14:00 left in the game Marshall stole the ball, firing a long outlet to Ross on the run. Ross's dunk tied the game at 42.

Tech shut down the back side with an increase to a pressure defense at every spot and the Red Raiders went ahead on a Marshall bucket augmented by a foul and sunken charity shot to lead 47-44 with 12:15 left. Ross would redeem a turnover with his fourth steal, followed by an easy bucket, to tie the game again at 53; but then Tech began to turn the ball over in its turn while losing the shooting touch that had taken them above 42 percent in the first half. West Virginia figured out the chinks in Tech's defense with five minutes left in the game, and the Red Raiders could come no closer than two points afterward.

For the Mountaineers, 49% field goal shooting over the game keyed the win; Pittsnogle went seven of thirteen and hit two of three from beyond the arc for 22 points to lead all scorers. He grabbed seven boards and made six of eight from the charity stripe. Forward Tyrone Sally finished with eight points, two boards, and three personal fouls while Mike Gansey collected three rebounds and 11 points. J.D. Collins added three points and two boards for the Mountaineers, while Joe Herber picked up two rebounds and two points. Patrick Bielein had 10 points and two boards while Darris Nichols pitched in two points. D'Or Fischer had five points and four rebounds, and freshman Frank Young finished with two points and two rebounds.

Red Raider Ronald Ross led his team with 16 points. Martin Zeno added two points and three rebounds; Jarrius Jackson produced nine points and five boards. Devonne Giles had five boards and 12 points. Darryl Dora's nine boards and 11 points barely missed a double-double and Marshall produced 10 points and one rebound. Luc Quente White managed three rebounds.

Texas Tech finished the season 22-11, while the Mountaineers raise their record to 24-10 with the win. The last time the Red Raiders played in the Sweet 16 game was nine years ago. Tech coach Bobby Knight has earned berths in the NCAA tournament three times in his four years at the helm.

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