Red Raiders rally from 15-down for Thanksgiving win over UNI

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – Texas Tech opened the 2023 Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis with an 85-69 quarterfinal loss to Villanova on Wednesday and will now play Norther Iowa at 11 a.m. on Thursday at Imperial Arena. Pop Isaacs led the Red Raiders with 16 points, while Joe Toussaint had a season-high 15 points and eight assists in the only loss of the season.

Tech (3-1) was outscored 26-14 in the paint against Villanova (4-1) which also took advantage of a free-throw disparity that saw the Wildcats go 26-for-32 from the line and the Red Raiders only shoot 13-for-22 at the stripe. The Red Raiders finished the game 14-for-36 (38.9 percent) on 3-pointers with Isaacs going 4-for-11 from beyond the arc and Toussaint and Chance McMillian hitting three each.

“Give Villanova the credit,” Texas Tech coach Grant McCasland said. “I thought they were the more physical and tougher team. They beat us in paint points and got more offensive rebounds. They made more free throws than we attempted. Those are three huge factors. I thought in the course of the game if we could get stops in transition it would give us opportunities, and it did. We closed the gap in the second half but they went right back to us in the paint and made a couple 3s when we tried to take the paint away. They are a vet team and you could see the experience that caused us problems.”

Isaacs scored 13 of his team-high 16 points in the second half and has now led the team in scoring two times this season after opening the year with 19 points in the season-opening win over Texas A&M-Commerce. He now leads the team with 12.8 points per game this season and has scored in double-figures in 18 games in his career. Toussaint, who had a career-high 11 assists two seasons ago, dished out eight of Tech’s 17 assists against the Wildcats along with scoring his season-high 15 points on a 5-for-9 shooting performance from the field and a season-high three 3-pointers. He is the only Red Raider to score in double figures in all four games this season and is now averaging 12.3 ppg. Devan Cambridge added 11 points to PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – Pop Isaacs hit the game-winning shot with less than a second remaining to give Texas Tech a 72-70 Thanksgiving Day win over Northern Iowa in a game at the Bad Boy Mowers Battle 4 Atlantis where the Red Raiders trailed by 15 points midway through the second half on Thursday at Imperial Arena. Joe Toussaint led the Red Raiders (4-1) with a season-high 21 points and passed the ball over to Isaacs with five seconds on the clock. Isaacs, who finished with 18 points, drove to the basket and went off glass with a runner to complete the comeback win.

“Coach drew the play up to get me the ball at the top of the key and get to my right hand,” Isaacs said. “I just didn’t want to settle. I wanted to get to the rim and maybe get a foul. These guys trusted me. Joe passed me the ball and Coach drew it up. I appreciate them and all my teammates.”

Darrion Williams finished the game with 10 points, nine rebounds, and three blocked shots while Devan Cambridge had 10 points and eight rebounds in the win. Warren Washington added seven points, six rebounds, and a blocked shot in a game where Tech limited its turnovers to a season-low eight, had a 18-6 scoring advantage off turnovers, and made eight 3-pointers. UNI (1-4) was 24-for-51 (47.1 percent) from the field, made nine 3-pointers, and was 13 of 19 at the free-throw line. Tech went 16-for-19 at the free-throw line.

“Northern Iowa plays with great pace and is a tough team,” Texas Tech coach Grant McCasland said. “We have a tremendous amount of respect for them. We knew going into the game that we would have our hands full and they really had us on our heels for 30 minutes really. They put pressure on us defensively with pace but also we couldn’t get going in the paint. We finally got them in foul trouble and got into the bonus. You could feel it turn at that time. I was thrilled with how we continued to compete and how our defense continued to improve throughout the game.”

The Red Raiders will now play in the 5th-6th place game at 5 p.m. on Friday to complete their three-game stay in the Bahamas. Tech opened with a loss on Wednesday against Villanova and play the Michigan-Stanford winner on the final day. They’ll go into it on a high note after fighting back from a nine-point halftime deficit that was at its peak at 58-43 with 11 minutes remaining.

“I was just telling our guys to stay together,” Toussaint said. “It’s a long game. We had to stay together and keep going. We pulled off the win.”

“We just had to keep fighting,” Isaacs said. “Stayed positive and encouraging each other.”

It was back to nine points with Cambridge making a layup and then seven when he made a tough inside shot with 7:36 on the clock. Isaacs assisted on both. Tech was within three after a pair of free throws from Toussaint and then a 3-pointer from Kerwin Walton. The shot from Walton pushed the run to 12-1 and was his first 3-pointer since the season opener. The game was even for the first time at 64 with Toussaint hitting a 3-pointer with 5:05 on the clock and Tech took its first lead of the game at 65-64 with Cambridge making the second of two free throws. Tech led 70-66 on another Toussaint shot, but UNI would tie it at 70 with an Anderson 3-pointer with 27 seconds to play.

That set up the heroics from Isaacs who called game and evened the Tech record at 1-1 at Battle 4 Atlantis. It was his first game-winning shot in his career.

UNI took a 40-31 lead into halftime in a first half where it led throughout and was up by as many as 12. Isaacs led Tech with 11 points after going 3-for-6 on 3-pointers in the first half, while Toussaint had seven points and Warren Washington led the team with five rebounds to go along with three points and a block. Cambridge had five points and three rebounds for the Red Raiders who were shooting just 9-for-28 (32.1 percent) from the field but were 5-for-14 on 3-pointers and 8 of 9 from the free-throw line. UNI shot 14-for-29 (48.3 percent) in the first half and was 5-for-12 on 3s along with making 7 of 9 free throws. Nate Hiese led UNI with 11 points in the first half and finished with a team-high 18.

Tech won the tip but had a shot clock violation on its first possession and saw UNI strike first with a Heise 3-pointer. Isaacs scored Tech’s first points on a 3-pointer to respond immediately before UNI went on 7-0 run. Toussaint put a slight pause on the Panthers with a 3-pointer to make it a 10-6 game on a step-back, shot-clock beating make. The Red Raiders closed to within 20-15 on another Isaacs 3-pointer, but UNI went on another 7-0 run before Cambridge came up with offensive rebound and putback to make it a 27-18 deficit. Isaacs and Toussaint had scored Tech’s first 15 points of the game until Cambridge second-chance basket. Down 30-20 at the final media timeout of the first half, McMillian drilled a 3-pointer to cut it to 32-23 on his first points. Tech was on a 6-0 run and within four before a 3-pointer and foul that turned it into a four-point play by Born gave UNI the momentum again going into the break.

Toussaint scored his career-high 22 points last season while playing for West Virginia against Texas Tech. Now a Red Raider, he is the only player to have scored in double figures in all five games after he went 6-for-13 from the field with two 3-pointers and going 7-for-7 at the free-throw line. Isaacs made four 3-pointers for the second straight game after also having four against Villanova where he scored a team-high 16 points. Toussaint had 15 in the first game in the Bahamas and has now led Tech in scoring twice this season and is averaging 14.0 points per game.

The 15-point comeback comes a season after the Red Raiders established the program record with a 23-point comeback against Iowa State. Tech is now 1-0 all-time against UNI after the first matchup between the two programs and the Red Raiders will look to leave the Bahamas with a winning record going into a matchup next week at Butler in Indianapolis.

“We’ll continue to get better,” McCasland said. “Even during this game. Our heart has been about how do we find a way to help each other get better. Love being around these guys and I know our best days are ahead of us.”

Release provided by Wes Bloomquist Texas Tech Athletics

More about: