After a 20th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance over 20 years, the Gonzaga Bulldogs finished another splendid season Saturday the same way they have the past two decades — no title.
College basketball’s highest-scoring offense met its match in the defense of third-seeded Texas Tech, which is going to the Final Four for the first time. The Red Raiders disrupted and dismayed the No. 1-seeded Zags 75-69 (box) in Anaheim.
Gonzaga (33-4) missed 19 of 26 three-point attempts and committed 16 turnovers, including six by 6-8 forward Brandon Clarke (18 points, 12 rebounds), who was double-teamed and harassed nearly every time he had the ball inside. The Zags were held under 70 points for only the fourth time this season.
“It’s real. That defense is real,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “It impacted us tonight. They took a lot of balls tonight.”
The teams exchanged streaks and droughts throughout, never more than five points apart until the final two minutes.
Up 68-62 inside the final minute, Tech center Tariq Owens sprinted to the corner to block the three-point attempt of Rui Hachimura, the Zags’ leading scorer (22 points), then batted the ball back to a teammate to provide the decisive possession. However, two referees watching the play didn’t see Owens was out of bounds.
A putback at :11 by Zach Norvell Jr. cut the Red Raiders’ lead to 71-69, but Zags senior Josh Perkins inexplicably hit the arm of Matt Mooney while he was attempting to in-bound the ball.
The dead-ball foul was a technical foul. Davide Moretti, who scored 10 of his final 12 points in the last four minutes, made both free throws and Tech kept possession, sealing the game and sending the Big 12 Conference champions (30-6) on to the Final Four in Minneapolis.