9:40 PM ET, March 24, 2005
The Pit, Albuquerque, New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- With a chance to extend West Virginia's improbable NCAA Tournament run, Kevin Pittsnogle's mind was far from the foul line."Coach told me to think about my wife," said the recently married forward. "That kind of cheered me up, and I didn't think about anything else." With a swish and another swish, Pittsnogle's free throws sealed a 65-60 win over Bob Knight and Texas Tech on Thursday night, moving the Mountaineers to the regional finals for the first time since Jerry West led them to the championship game in 1959. "Thrilled. It's the best word I can use to describe it for our state, our university and especially our players," coach John Beilein said. Pittsnogle scored 22 points, including the free throws to make it 64-60 with 17.2 seconds left, to send the seventh-seeded Mountaineers (24-10) to Saturday's regional final against Rick Pitino's fourth-seeded Louisville Cardinals (32-4). "I've talked with sports psychologists and they always say to make them feel relaxed and happy," Beilein said about his conversation with Pittsnogle. "I said 'You have a wonderful wife and family. Think about that while you're out there.' " They needed something good to think about after watching a 62-55 lead whittled down to two points. The Mountaineers won despite not scoring a field goal over the last 3:54. A former bubble team and an eighth seed in the Big East tournament, West Virginia added yet another dramatic win to its best run in the NCAA Tournament since West and the Mountaineers lost the national title game 71-70 to California. Pittsnogle, a muscular, tattooed 6-foot-11 forward who shoots and handles the ball like a guard, carried the Mountaineers down the stretch, and his 3-pointer with 6:10 left put West Virginia ahead to stay at 56-53. But the Red Raiders (23-11), battling for their first trip to the round of eight, didn't go down easily. A three-point play by Jarrius Jackson and a layup by Devonne Giles -- his first points since the opening minutes, cut West Virginia's lead to 62-60 with 1:17 left. With the Mountaineers on their heels, Pittsnogle bailed them out. Jackson stole the ball near midcourt and raced in for a layup, but Pittsnogle blocked it with 57 seconds remaining. In the battle for the loose ball, the Red Raiders got three offensive rebounds and four shots, but all missed. "That's exactly how I thought the game would go," Knight said. "I did not think it was going to be easy at all to score against them." The ball started to roll out of bounds near the Texas Tech bench and Beilein's son, Patrick, managed to save it and call a timeout with 30.5 seconds left to set up the free throws. "Both teams played really hard and right down to the last 45 seconds, either team still had a chance to win the ballgame," Knight said. "As always is the case, one team makes a couple plays and the other team doesn't and that ends up being the difference." D'or Fischer added a free throw in the final seconds. Knight, in his fourth season at Texas Tech, was in the regional semifinals for the first time since 1994 with Indiana, the school he coached to three national titles before a messy divorce in September 2000. Knight's 854 career wins are 25 shy of Dean Smith's NCAA Division I record (879). Pittsnogle, who hit 7 of 13 shots, also had eight rebounds. Mike Gansey scored 11 and Patrick Beilein scored 10. Ronald Ross led Texas Tech with 16 points, but had four of the Red Raiders' 16 turnovers. Ross, whom Knight has called one of his favorite players, took the brunt of Knight's frequent outbursts in a game marked by tenacious defense and plenty of contact inside and on the perimeter. "From what I could see, both teams made it relatively difficult for the other, to do what they wanted to do offensively," Knight said. At one point in the first half, Knight shouted at Ross after the former walk-on committed a turnover. In the second half, after another errant Tech pass, a red-faced Knight got in Ross' face and slapped him on the rear. The tough-love approach worked. Ross, who hit just 3 of 11 shots in the first half, kept the Red Raiders in the game with three steals, all of which he converted into one-handed slams. "Whoever he was covering was having problems," John Beilein said. The Mountaineers, who hit nine 3s in a 111-105 double-overtime win over Wake Forest in the second round, hit six of their first nine 3s in this one, including four straight to take a 22-14 lead with 12:03 left in the first half. Gansey hit three and Beilein the other. They were still up by seven when Patrick Beilein scored with 9:13 left, but the Mountaineers then went scoreless for nearly 7 minutes. It stayed tight through the second half, and in the end, West Virginia made the plays to keep its unexpectedly long season going. "We're not one of those powerhouses -- Duke or North Carolina -- yet," Patrick Beilein said. "We like being under the radar. We just got hot at the right time."
Knight stayed stuck on 45 NCAA tournament wins, two behind John Wooden, who is third on the career list. ... Giles and Pittsnogle turned the game's first 4½ minutes into a one-on-one shootout. Giles had all 10 of the Red Raiders' points over that stretch and Pittsnogle scored the Mountaineers' first seven.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press
Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||24-51 (.471)||24-56 (.429)|
|3P Made-Attempted||9-22 (.409)||1-8 (.125)|
|FT Made-Attempted||8-13 (.615)||11-16 (.688)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||15 (0/0)||15 (0/0)|
|» Mar 24, 2005||WVU 65, @TTU 60||Recap|