Texas Tech ousts Notre Dame and advances to the Sweet 16

The Texas Tech Red Raiders are on their way to the Sweet 16.

Pushed to the limit by the 11th-seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish in an NCAA tournament game played at San Diego, the No. 3 Red Raiders rallied at the end for a 59-53 victory.

With the win, the Red Raiders (27-9) will advance to play the two seed Duke Blue Devils (30-6) on Thursday in San Francisco. Texas Tech needs to win twice more in the tournament to reach the Final Four.

“I’m so excited right now I can’t put it into words,” Texas Tech’s Kevin McCullar, Jr., said. “So thankful for my brothers on the team, coach (Mark) Adams and stuff. It came down to defense. We knew we needed to get stops against a really good Notre Dame team. That’s what we ended up doing. And we hit some big free throws.”

Notre Dame’s Blake Wesley hit one of two free throws with 2:09 remaining to give the Fighting Irish a 52-49 lead.

From there, Texas Tech surged on a 10-1 run to the final buzzer.

A key play came with less than a minute remaining when forward Marcus Santos-Silva blocked a layup attempt by Wesley that would have given the Irish a one-point lead.

Instead, the Red Raiders gained possession, Santos-Silva was fouled, and he hit two free throws for a 55-52 lead.

Later, McCullar, Jr., from San Antonio’s Wagner High School, hit two free throws. After a Notre Dame turnover, McCullar dunked in transition to make it 59-52.

Forward Kevin Obanor led the Red Raiders with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Bryson Williams and McCullar added 14 apiece.

Off the bench, Santos-Silva was big. He had four points, five rebounds and two blocked shots. A left-hander, he made two free throws right handed.

“How about that?” first-year Texas Tech coach Mark Adams said. “Here’s a guy who changes his shot. I’d like to take credit for it. But I think he did that on his own about a month ago … He looks a whole lot better. But quite honestly (it) still hadn’t been going in, in practice. We were crossing our fingers.”

Dane Goodwin led the Irish with 14 points and eight rebounds. Wesley had 11 points and eight boards. Goodwin knocked down three of Notre Dame’s nine 3-pointers.

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