March 30, 2017
NEW YORK (AP) Kenrich Williams had 25 points and 12 rebounds, and TCU defeated Georgia Tech 88-56 in the NIT championship on Thursday night.
TCU opened with a 20-3 run on its way to the program’s first NIT title. Vlad Brodziansky scored 18 points for the Horned Frogs (24-15), and Alex Robinson had 10 points and 11 assists.
Tadric Jackson led Georgia Tech (21-16) with 19 points. Josh Okogie had 12 points and six rebounds.
”We played to the last buzzer,” Georgia Tech senior Quinton Stephens said. ”We stuck together. We stayed with the way we need to play.
”It was bigger than us. We knew bigger things were coming and this is only the beginning.”
It was the first meeting between the programs since Dec. 21, 1967, and No. 3 overall. And it mostly belonged to TCU, which never trailed.
The Horned Frogs led 38-27 at halftime, and it was more of the same in the second half. Williams and Brodziansky had dunks, and Williams knocked down a 3 to help push the advantage to 54-39.
”They punched us first,” Stephens said. ”We put ourselves in a little bit of a hole.”
TCU shot 51 percent (35 for 68) from the field and held Georgia Tech to 35.7 percent (20 for 56) shooting. The Yellow Jackets also committed 17 turnovers, leading to 28 points for TCU, and the Horned Frogs also had 21 second-chance points.
”In a high-level game you can’t do that,” said Josh Pastner, who took over as Georgia Tech’s coach last April. ”We had too many turnovers and they gave up too many second chances.”
Georgia Tech: Despite the loss, it was a successful season for the Yellow Jackets. A program Pastner referred to as a ”major rebuild job” as recently as Tuesday won 21 games and competed in a national postseason tournament. ”I promise you,” Pastner said after the game. ”To be playing in this final game, it’s miraculous.”
The Yellow Jackets did not have a field goal until Ben Lammers’ jumper 5:03 into the game. Prior to Lammers’ basket, Georgia Tech was 0 for 6 from the field and had committed four turnovers.
”We dug ourselves a hole and we totally were trying to climb out of it the entire evening,” Pastner said. ”It just made it hard on us and we just could never really get over that hump or get it close enough.”