San Diego – Texas Tech players came as advertised. They collided, were grinding, switched and dared Notre Dame to bring its mid-earth attack. And for another night, as the Red Raiders’ offense had also fallen into disrepute, it worked.
The Red Raiders stopped Notre Dame storybook week — and season — with a 59-53 victory despite firing 35.6 percent from the field. As a result, Texas Tech advanced to the round of 16 on Thursday against the Duke in San Francisco.
“The ball is going to go some nights, and some nights it won’t go,” said Texas technical guard Kevin McCullar. “We know one thing that will be constant is our defense and our efforts. We want to be the most difficult team to play always.”
After a classic double-overtime bout against Rutgers in playoff and a solid first-round win over Alabama on Friday, the Irish fighter simply couldn’t beat the nation’s leader in defensive proficiency. It was a defensive fight that was sometimes more of a rock fight than ballet. What he lacks in art he makes up for in grit.
Texas Tech was too big for Notre Dame on the inside in the first half, putting the Irish on just 25 percent of the field (7 to 28). The Irish’s best chance early on was to shoot the Texas Tech defense, and their 31 percent success from the 3-point range (5 to 16) in the first half put them within 26-25 in the first half.
But the margin of error was small. Paul Atkinson Jr., who scored 26 points against Rutgers on Wednesday, was limited to 5 points — and one field goal — from the Red Raiders. Texas Tech kept bowler Cormac Ryan, after his career high of 29 points against Alabama on Friday, to just 9. For the game, Notre Dame repaid 32.7 percent. However, the Irish had a chance to win in the last minute as Texas Tech only fired 32.1 percent in the second half.
Notre Dame had a hard time controlling striker Kevin O’Banor, who led Texas Tech with 15 points. In fact, O’Banor, Bryson Williams, and McCullar (14 points each) combined to score 43 of Texas Tech’s 59 points.
– Scott Miller
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