With 27 seconds left in regulation and the Texas Tech men’s basketball team leading by three, West Virginia’s Terry Henderson nailed a wide open look from downtown to tie the game and force overtime.
“I didn’t come up,” sophomore guard Toddrick Gotcher said. “It was a flare screen, I believe. Rob went out and I didn’t commit to ... Henderson on the three.”
It proved to be the last, best chance for the Red Raiders to earn their first Big 12 Conference victory of the season as West Virginia scored first in the overtime period and escaped United Spirit Arena with an 89-86 win.
“This is a tough one to take,” Tech head coach Tubby Smith said. “I really thought we were going to find a way to win this one, but we didn’t.”
The past two games between these teams have each been decided by a field goal, and the expectation, again, was for a close game.
It wasn’t always a one-shot game, however, as Tech battled back from an 11 point deficit in the second half.
Sophomore guard Dusty Hannahs scored 10 points in two-and-a-half minutes, and junior forward Jordan Tolbert chipped in a pair of free throws to cut the West Virginia (10-5, 2-0) lead to one. With 4:37 left in regulation, senior forward Jaye Crockett came in after sitting out most of the second half with three fouls and scored a quick eight points before lobbing an assist to Tolbert to give Tech (8-7, 0-2) a one-point lead with 55 seconds left.
“We just fought and came together as a team and knew that it was a game that we wanted to win,” Crockett said. “We had to fight until the very last second.”
Four Red Raiders finished in double digits, led by Tolbert with a double-double of 18 points and 12 rebounds, followed by Gotcher with 17, Crockett with 15 and Hannahs with 14.
Tech was outscored in the paint 40-34.
“They were mixing it up. They played some 1-3-1, some 2-3, some man-to-man,” Smith said. “They really kept us off balance. … They outplayed us in that area. We’ve been much more effective inside. When we penetrated, I thought we took some bad shots as well. Early on we did a good job. That’s why Jordan was able to get 12 shots tonight.”
Defensively, Crockett said Tech needs to make some adjustments down low.
“We have to double down and people need to do their assignments,” he said. “When someone catches it in the post, we know they’re a threat so we just have to double down from the guard position. We need to keep guys in front of us. We kept letting guys get around us and get angles to score. We have to make it more difficult for them to score in the post.”
The Red Raiders dominated the glass, 35-26, and pulled down 14 offensive boards for as many second-chance points.
All season, Smith has wanted his team to improve its shooting both behind the arc and at the free throw line.
Monday night, Tech made eight 3-pointers and went 22-of-26 from the charity stripe.
West Virginia also netted eight 3-pointers but sunk only 15 shots from the line.
“We took the ball to the basket,” Smith said. “We attacked the basket. I thought the game plan was solid. I was disappointed in our play in the first half but we came out and changed up our defense and throwed some wrinkles in that really slowed them down.”
Juwan Staten led the Mountaineer scoring attack with 25 points, followed by Eron Harris with 18, Henderson with 16 and Devin Williams with 12.
“They were really killing us in our man-to-man,” Smith said. “They were throwing the ball down the court. Juwan Staten was having a field day laying the ball up. And then in the end when we did go zone, he’s just a good player. He crossed our guys over and shot it right in their face a couple of times on tough shots. When the shot clock was going down, he made big shots.”
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