One and done
Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 14, 2013 00:03
With less than five seconds to play, it appeared West Virginia and Texas Tech were headed to overtime.
The Mountaineers’ Aaric Murray blocked a layup attempt with the game tied at 69 apiece.
But the ball stayed in play, and eventually found its way back into the hands of the Red Raiders’ Dejan Kravic, who connected on a put-back layup with 0.4 seconds to play to propel Texas Tech to a 71-69 win.
"You always see that on TV, but you never expect it to happen to you," Kravic said. "That was just a crazy feeling."
Kravic was able to grab the rebound between three Mountaineer defenders and score what was his first game-winning basket to his memory.
"I thought it was done," said West Virginia senior forward Deniz Kilicli. "I thought after the (blocked) shot, that it was going be done. I think that’s what everyone thought."
"If it bounces over the rim, we rebound (it). And it didn’t bounce over the rim," said West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins. "We didn’t block out either, though, which I guess sometimes happens in situations like that."
West Virginia (13-19, 6-12) ended its season on a seven-game losing streak and didn’t win a game in March for the first time since the 2001-2002 season.
It was the first losing season for the Mountaineers since 2004 and will be the first time they miss out on the NCAA tournament since Huggins took the helm in 2007.
"It sucks, man. Our season is over," Kilicli said. "I never ended my season this early in my life. I don’t know what to do with myself right now."
The Mountaineers trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half but were able to cut the deficit to five heading into the locker room.
WVU continued to chip away at the lead and eventually led for the first time with 8:33 to play.
But Texas Tech (11-19, 3-5), led by Jaye Crockett’s game-high 18 points, regained control behind 8-of-12 shooting from behind the arc.
West Virginia freshman guard Terry Henderson felt Texas Tech gave more effort than it did in the first two meetings between the two schools – both victories for the Mountaineers.
"I think they played harder because it’s a do-or-die situation," Henderson said. "Crazy things happen in the tournament. They just took the opportunity and ran with it."
It appeared as if West Virginia had to use most of its energy while fighting its way back into the game after falling behind early.
"It (coming back) might have taken a little bit of energy out of us, but that shouldn’t matter," said WVU freshman guard Eron Harris. "We’ve got to play for 40 minutes regardless."
West Virginia was led by Henderson’s 12 points, while Harris and Kilicli chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively.
It was likely Kilicli’s final game in a West Virginia uniform, being the final player remaining from the 2010 Final Four team.
How does he want to be remembered?
"I was the big bearded guy. That’s enough for me," Kilicili said. "I played hard every game I played here. I want to be remembered like that."