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A 65-60 win over Texas Tech puts West Virginia in the Elite Eight for the first time since 1959.
Published March 25, 2005
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The last time West Virginia went this far in the NCAA Tournament, Jerry West was a Mountaineer.
Kevin Pittsnogle and his unheralded teammates spoiled Bobby Knight's return to the Sweet 16, beating Texas Tech 65-60 Thursday night to move within one win of a surprising trip to the Final Four.
Pittsnogle scored 22, including two clutch free throws with 17.2 seconds left to send the seventh-seeded Mountaineers to Saturday's region final against Rick Pitino's fourth-seeded Louisville.
The Mountaineers led 62-55 with 3:54 left after Pittsnogle hit two free throws, then held on despite not scoring a field goal the rest of the game.
West Virginia, a former bubble team and No. 8 seed in the Big East tournament, added another dramatic win to its best NCAA Tournament run since 1959, when 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 like a guard, carried the Mountaineers down the stretch. His 3-pointer with 6:10 left put West Virginia ahead to stay at 56-53.
But the Red Raiders, battling for their first trip to the Elite Eight, didn't go down easily. Jarrius Jackson's three-point play and Devonne Giles' layup, 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 left. 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 the Mountaineers saved it and called timeout with 30.5 seconds left.
West Virginia got the ball in Pittsnogle's hands, and he was fouled. He converted both free throws, and teammate D'or Fischer added a free throw in the final seconds to seal it.
Knight, in his fourth season at Texas Tech, was in the region 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 men's record.
Pittsnogle, who hit 7 of 13 shots, also had eight rebounds.