Tech cagers clinch first Southwest Conference championship
1961 HAIL TO THE CHAMPIONS!
Because they wouldn't quit and didn't know what the word means in the first place, Texas Tech's Red Raiders swarmed from behind to batter down a stubborn University of Texas team Thursday night, 63-60, before 10,380 wildly screaming fans and clinch the first Southwest Conference basketball championship.
Twice the Raiders had to fight back from the verge of extinction, battling odds that might have quelled another team. But this squad locomoted by determination and fired by determination, was equal to the challenge.
That Texas A&M beat Arkansas meant nothing to the Raiders. Had they lost, it would have meant a playoff. They didn't lose and so they go now to the NCAA playoffs in Lawrence, Kan., March 17 and 18.
"I'm glad that they won," Texas coach Hal Bradley said calmly after the game, "but I'm glad we made them earn it. Tech has a fine team."
The Raiders had to fight pressure, too, in winning, because only a victory would earn a clear-cut title. In addition, Texas turned in one of its finest games of the season.
Once again it was the Mutt and Jeff combination of Harold Hudgens and Del Ray Mounts who topped the scorers. Hudgens had 20 points before fouling out with 6:41 left, a stage in the game that had fans holding their breath as the shadow of fear lurked across the court.
Mounts came up with 17 points and Roger Hennig had 12 as the Raiders fought from 11 points behind for a 37-37 halftime tie. Donnie Lasiter paced the Longhorns with 20 points, 16 of them in the first half. Albert Almanza had 11.
But scoring alone doesn't tell the story. Tom Patty, playing a strong game, came up with 12 rebounds, while Hennig sank four of four pressure-packed free throws in the final 2:42 of play. Those free throws made the difference, too.
Mac Percival had only five points, but he grabbed seven rebounds and turned in his usual strong floor game. Bobby Gindorf, who started, played steady ball and was tough on defense. It was another great team effort.
The last half tells the story of the game, although Tech had to come from 11 points behind with 8:32 remaining in the first 20 minutes to gain its intermission tie.
But Texas, moving the ball well and hitting with much sharper accuracy than Tech, steadily pulled nine points ahead, 48-39, with the opening of the final chapter in the first five minutes, Tech managed only one field goal.
Then the Raiders began to move. Hennig sparked them by hitting from the side and Mounts followed with a jump shot to cut the Steer lead to 48-43. Jimmy Brown sank a free throw to make it 49-43, but Hudgens banked in a shot to cut it to 49-45.
Patty meshed a free throw and Hudgens sank a pair to slice the lead to one point, 49-48. Mounts missed the first two free throws but his second clipped the nets cleanly and it was all even, 49-49.