Five point nine seconds left in overtime, Texas Tech leads #10 Washington 99-92. The Texas Tech fans have already stormed the court once and they are pressed against the arena security prepared to do it again...
I was one of 9,912 in attendance for this game. Our attendance, while the highest of the season for Tech basketball, was rather low compared to many of the nations' powerhouse teams. However, we made up for it with a palatable energy Tech fans always seem to exhibit.
Prior to the game, I can recall hearing many students discussing whether we would storm the court in the event of an upset. The general consensus was no. One student said, "But Wisconsin did it yesterday." Another replied, "Yea but that was Duke." And that was the end of it - I can assure you Tech fans were not planning on storming the court, at least not initially.
Texas Tech got off to a good first half going into the locker room up 50-41 and the United Spirit Arena was rocking. I was especially impressed by our defense's scrappy play forcing numerous turnovers and coming up with big blocks in the paint. After attending every home football for Tech this year and many last year, I can honestly say I have never been to a louder Tech sporting event.
It would only get louder in the second half.
As all good teams do, Washington came out in the second half hot. They went on a 19-10 run in the first eight minutes of the second half tying the game at 60 all. The game bounced back and forth over the next ten minutes with very few decisive leads.
One of the few opportunities Tech had to put Washington away came with eight minutes left in regulation. Texas Tech was on the verge of gaining considerable momentum as D'Wayln Roberts of Tech blocked an Isaiah Thomas layup, followed by Mike Singletary rebounding and a quick David Tauri layup. Thomas had the ball stolen by Singletary and Roberts went up and made a big layup.
The score was 72-69 Tech and the crowd was absolutely beside themselves chanting, "Raaaiiddeeerr... Pooooowwweeerr... Raaaaiiddeeerr... Pooooowwweeerr", and yelling the student's version of the fight song, "We will hit 'em, we will wreck, we will F$%#ing kick your A@@, and the victory bells will ring out!"
Washington's Quincy Pondexter who had 31 points on the night shut the crowd up with a quick layup. Tech then turned the ball over and Pondexter shot a near wet three pointer. Pat Knight would take a timeout, Tech leading 72-71.
As a fan in the heart of the student section I can point out one of the main catalysts for Tech's storming of the court. It came with 1:36 left in regulation... Isaiah Thomas known simply as "number two" by the crowd, swished a three pointer giving the Huskies a two point lead. He back peddled away from the basket looking up at the student section with a smug smile and threw his guns up mocking the entire crowd. He might as well have punched each of our mothers' in the face because pandemonium ensued.
Singletary answered the Huskies with a two point jumper against an out of position Washington defense. The game would be tied 80 all with 47 seconds left. It would now be up to the defense to prove they are better than teams' of years past who couldn't finish in the clutch.
The clock would run down to 20 ticks before Washington attempted a shot. A mad dash was made for the rebound going in and out of several players' hands before ending in the possession of Elston Turner of the Huskies, who would be fouled hard by Brad Reese.
Five seconds on the clock, tie game and Turner, a 40% free throw shooter is on the line. Tech fans smelt blood and you would've thought we going for a Guinness World Record... I have never heard a sporting event as loud, and I attended such games as the famous Michael Crabtree upset of the Texas Longhorns as well as the UT-Tech game this year in Austin with a record 101,000 in attendance. It was that loud!
Turner misses the first shot bouncing off the front of the rim... I am bleeding from the ears at this point and couldn't be happier. Turner misses the second shot putting a little too much on it. I quite possibly saw Jesuses eyes illuminating from the game clock which was winding down from 4.8 at an unusually slow rate.
The Red Raiders get the rebound and race down the court.
Mike Singletary sets up at about 4 o'clock just outside the three point arc with two defenders in his face.
The ball leaves his hand as the buzzer sounds.
I am focusing on the lights surrounding the backboard which were most definitely not red in color.
His shot was about a quarter of the way to the basket as the lights turned red.
Complete silence. The crowd was comfortably numb hoping for the best but expecting overtime.
Swish the net went as the ball made a perfect connection with the basket.
The celebration was instant. Everyone had clearly seen the red illuminate after the ball had left Singletary's hand. There was no reason to even question the legitimacy of the shot, and yes Coach Romeo, there was Hooplah involved.
We stormed the court contrary to the general consensus made earlier that we would not. Such a dramatic ending against a top 10 team to obtain our best record since 1930, coupled with the general cocky attitude displayed by Washington was just too much. We had to express the sheer ecstasy we were in, and we did so in the purest, most genuine form possible - Storming the court, yelling and jumping around like lunatics without a care in the world. For just a minute, nothing else mattered.
Juxtaposing images abound, Washington players stunned with blank faces staring off into space, exuberant Tech fans running by them in a state of ecstasy. It was almost as if time had slowed for the Huskies as the world spun madly around them.
"OVVVERRRR RAAATTEDDD......DUHH DUHH...DUH DUH DUH", echoed throughout the arena. Pat Knight, Tech's Head Coach, made the classy move telling the fans to knock it off and surprisingly we listened to the ball coach; the cheer subsiding nearly as quickly as it had begun.
Then the review came and the shot was overturned sending the game into overtime. Me, along with thousands of others sheepishly made our way back to our seats. The replay was never shown on the Jumbo-tron, and while it was a good call in hindsight, everyone had seen the red lights (which was found to "lack Swiss precision") illuminate after the shot was off.
Five minutes of overtime began with a Singletary turnover and an Overton layup. Tech answered with their own and this pattern continued until 49 seconds remained in overtime. Washington would take a timeout following a layup by Okorie to give the Red Raiders a two point lead.
This was the turning point in the game, and it all started with a player standing up to his coach. Pat Knight told his defense to run a 2-3 zone, but John Robertson stepped up and said, "We need to run man". Knight had faith in his player who had had played an excellent game and elected to go man-to-man. The very next play on the inbound pass Robertson looked a lot like Champ Bailey baiting the throw to his man. As soon as the ball was in the air, Robertson broke on it, caught it at its highest point and went for the go-ahead layup.
93-89 with 43 seconds remaining.
Thomas misses a three pointer, Tech makes a clutch rebound and Washington fouls to send Robertson to the line. He makes both and ends the night 13 for 13 in that department. 95-89 with 28 seconds remaining and the crowd senses the game is won. The remaining time is full of fouls and desperation shots by Washington.
Five point nine seconds left in overtime, Texas Tech leads #10 Washington 99-92. The Texas Tech fans have already stormed the court once and they are pressed against the arena security prepared to do it again. This time no official review could chase them back into the stands. To get a sense of what happens next you are welcome to watch this video shot on my iPhone:
Washington played a great game in an extremely hostile environment, and nearly pulled out the win, but a lot credit should be given to Pat Knight and his team for hanging in there and overcoming adversity against a very good team. Hopefully Tech can keep the unbeaten streak alive and perhaps become a force in a very stacked Big 12 this year.
Pat Knight thanked the crowed after the game acknowledging the fact that they probably wouldn't have pulled off the upset without them. Knight said he hopes they can get this kind of crowd every game because, "These guys deserve it". The junior, Mike Singletary was quoted as saying, "We had to beat them twice... So it's all good."
Final Score: 99-92 Texas Tech in OT
Wreck 'Em Tech!