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BC-BKC--NCAA-Texas Tech-Gonzaga

March 31, 2019
AP National Writer

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — 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.

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.

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