Jarrett Culver, No. 3 Texas Tech Upset No. 1 Gonzaga to Advance to Final Four

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMarch 31, 2019

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 30: Matt Mooney #13 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders drives to the basket against Zach Norvell Jr. #23 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the first half of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament West Regional at Honda Center on March 30, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Jarrett Culver scored 19 points and Matt Mooney added 17 more as No. 3 seed Texas Tech withstood a late rally to beat No. 1 Gonzaga 75-69 on Saturday in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division I men's basketball tournament.

Red Raiders guard Davide Moretti added 12 points, including two three-pointers in the final four minutes. Tariq Owens pitched in nine points, seven rebounds and five blocks.

Rui Hachimura scored 22 points for the 33-4 Bulldogs, who Vegas Insider listed as 5.5-point favorites entering the game. Brandon Clarke added 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Neither team led by more than seven points in a wild game punctuated by a frenetic ending.

Gonzaga guard Zach Norvell Jr. made a layup to cut the Red Raiders lead to 71-69 with 12 seconds remaining. On the ensuing inbounds play, Bulldogs guard Josh Perkins accidentally knocked the ball from Mooney's hands as he tried to inbound:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Perkins with the technical foul on the inbounds... #MarchMadness https://t.co/36N9GGDDnd

As rules analyst Gene Steratore explained in-studio on the TBS postgame show, a technical foul was called because the ball was deflected before breaking the plane separating the out-of-bounds area from the court. Texas Tech then got to choose its free-throw shooter, leading to two successful charity-stripe shots from Moretti.

It was a devastating ending for Perkins and the Zags, who wouldn't have been in position to win the game without the senior guard's 16 points (4-of-9 three-point shooting) and team-leading six assists.

The Zags were then forced to foul Culver, who hit two more free throws to seal the game.

The Perkins foul wasn't the only notable official ruling (or non-ruling) down the stretch. With Texas tech up 68-62, Owens blocked a Hachimura three before saving the ball from going out of bounds and then passing to teammate Brandone Francis:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Definition of HUSTLE 😤 #MarchMadness https://t.co/EuFzgxJ9Fk

However, further review revealed that Owens had stepped out of bounds and had not established himself back in bounds before corralling the loose ball. In sum, Gonzaga should have received possession. 

Following a Francis free throw, the Red Raiders hung on for dear life down the stretch despite taking an apparently safe 69-62 lead with 52 seconds left.

Perkins hit a layup, and then Texas Tech turned the ball over on two straight possessions. The Zags made them pay the second time around with a Perkins three to cut the score to 69-67 with 22 seconds left:

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

JOSH PERKINS BURIES A CLUTCH 3! 🔥 Gonzaga makes it a 2 point game! #MarchMadness | @ZagMBB https://t.co/WJtN7fsqYt

Mooney hit two clutch free throws after being fouled, but Norvell responded with the layup before the game's finishing sequence.

The loss was an undoubtedly disappointing result for the Zags, who held a potential top-five NBA draft pick in Culver to 5-of-18 shooting but still fell short.

However, Gonzaga did not fare well on the offensive end, committing 16 turnovers. Inside the Kennel, which is Scout Network's Gonzaga site, noted the issue during the game:

Inside The Kennel @InsideTheKennel

Would love to see a stretch without those unforced turnovers. Just been a killer

Inside The Kennel @InsideTheKennel

Biggest things for me in half two are: 1) Take care of the call. They are a great defense but some of the turnovers have been unforced 2) Make them beat you with 3’s

Clarke had six of those turnovers, one of which led to a Moretti three-pointer to put the Red Raiders up 63-58:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

BIG-TIME THREE IN FRONT OF MOMMA #MarchMadness https://t.co/itJRTu6MCC

Moretti came up big on an emotional evening. His family, which lives in Italy and had not seen Davide in about a year, flew to the United States and surprised him during a team meeting before watching him play in person:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Davide Moretti tells his team why he plays basketball as his family sits in the back to surprise him The sophomore hasn’t seen them in over a year #MarchMadness https://t.co/pPpKjRiOAQ


Moretti also hit a big three a few minutes later to put the Red Raiders up 66-60:

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

CLUTCH! 🔥 @TexasTechMBB goes up 6 with less than 2 mins to play! #MarchMadness | #Elite8 https://t.co/EGgv1p8jQL

However, the star of the game was Mooney, who came up clutch on both ends.

On offense, Mooney shot an efficient 6-of-12 from the field. On defense, he came up with three steals.

Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports gave him deserved compliments:

Jeff Eisenberg @JeffEisenberg

Matt Mooney is way underrated, and it's not just his scoring. Clever passer and hands that move as fast as hummingbird wings in that rover role in Tech's defense.

John Gaskins of KWSN Sports 98.1 FM out of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, noted that the graduate transfer was this good when he was playing for the University of South Dakota:

John Gaskins @johngaskins981

Matt Mooney 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥 Driving, shooting, passing, defending stealing for a Big 12 school in the Elite 8, making Mark Few blow a fuse. We saw this a lot in South Dakota a couple years. So fun to see it on this stage. #GoYotes

Sam Vecenie of The Athletic also praised his defensive effort:

Sam Vecenie @Sam_Vecenie

lol that pass by Culver was absurd. Matt Mooney has been the critical guy for Tech so far. He’s getting his hands on everything defensively. Feels like he has to have 6 deflections already.


Despite the disappointing loss, the Zags put forth an excellent campaign led by two potential first-round picks in Hachimura and Clarke. The two dominated the paint for much of the night, as partially evidenced by the 37-29 edge on the boards.

Clarke, who led NCAA Division I in blocks, also made his presence felt on the defensive end:

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

REJECTED 🚫 #MarchMadness | #Elite8 https://t.co/NjXGQv0Iiu

He also threw down this monster dunk:

NCAA March Madness @marchmadness

THROW IT DOWN, Brandon Clarke! 😤 #Elite8 #MarchMadness | @ZagMBB https://t.co/BJ2EVVE0tG

As Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report noted, Clarke is second in NCAA Division I in player efficiency rating:

Jonathan Wasserman @NBADraftWass

Brandon Clarke's 38.1 PER would be the highest of any NCAA player over last 10 years (per Sports-Reference). Except for Zion. His is 41.6.

As for Hachimura, he continued to impress analysts after a season in which he was named to the USA Today All-American team, including Myron Medcalf of ESPN and Cliff Brunt of the Associated Press:

Myron Medcalf @MedcalfByESPN

Against Duke in Maui, Rui Hachimura claimed "I'm the best" after the game. He's coming out aggressively again, on a mission.

Cliff Brunt @CliffBruntAP

Rui Hachimura is such a stud.

However, the Red Raiders are the ones now moving on. They have advanced to their first Final Four in school history and will face the winner of No. 1 Duke and No. 2 Michigan State on Saturday. 

The Blue Devils vs. Spartans matchup will take place Sunday at 5:05 p.m. ET.