Red Raiders win 20th game of season

MORGANTOWN, West Virginia – Joe Toussaint went off for 21 points and seven assists while Chance McMillian hit five 3-pointers and finished with 19 points to help lead Texas Tech to an 81-70 win over West Virginia in a game where the Red Raiders trailed 20-4 to start on Saturday at WVU Coliseum.

The Red Raiders (20-9, 9-7 Big 12) reached the 20-win milestone for the 17th time in program history and Grant McCasland is only the third coach to do it in his first season leading the program. Tech now has four double-digit comeback wins in Big 12 play and improved 3-5 on the road in Big 12 play. WVU fell to 9-20 overall and 4-12 in conference play.

Darrion Williams added 17 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and two steals to extend his double-figure scoring streak to seven. Williams played all 40 minutes for the second straight Saturday, also playing every minute last weekend at UCF. Pop Isaacs added 10 points, five assists, and two steals while Eemeli Yalaho provided a spark with six points. The Red Raiders were playing without Warren Washington who is out with a foot injury but still managed to have an even 26-26 scoring in the paint. Tech finished the night shooting 13-for-31 (41.9%) on 3-pointers for their 11th game this season with 10 or more 3s.

Toussaint was one point shy of matching his career-high after going 9-for-17 from the field and hitting two 3-pointers against West Virginia where he played at last season. Toussaint, who matched his season-high of 21 that he also had against UNI, also had three steals in his third game this season scoring 20 or more.

“Every game I play, every time I step on the floor, I always have a chip on my should no matter who it is,” said Toussaint who scored 22 points last season against Texas Tech when playing for WVU.

“For Joe to be able to come back in this environment and play such a magnificent game in all aspects says a lot about his character and heart,” McCasland said. “We wouldn’t be here if not for Joe.”

Tech trailed 45-39 at halftime after being down 20-4 eight minutes into the game. Williams and Toussaint led the Red Raiders with 12 points each, while McMillian had six points and Isaacs five. Tech was 6-for-16 on 3-pointers in the first half and shot 15-for-37 (40.5%) from the field. WVU was 8-for-13 on 3-pointers and 12-for-26 *61.5%) from the field. Williams, who also had three rebounds and two assists, was 2-for-2 on 3-pointers and McMillian went 2-for-6 on 3s and had three assists. Isaacs was leading Tech with four assists through 20 minutes. WVU led 3-0 before a Yalaho layup for Tech’s first points. WVU controlled early, going on a 10-0 run with Tech starting the game 1-for-11 and trailing 13-2 before a dunk by Jennings off a McMillian assist. Toussaint broke up a 7-0 run by WVU by driving in for a layup and making a free throw to make it a 20-6 game eight minutes into the game. His shot made Tech 3-for-15 from the field. WVU was 7-for-11 at that point. A pair of free throws by Williams had it down to 11 and was followed by him hitting a jumper to get the game back to single digits.

“To start the game, we weren’t as engaged as we needed to be on a few things that we felt like were real foundations for the scouting report,” McCasland said. “The second half, I thought our defense really stepped up. They got some open looks, but they were really deep. I thought they were pushed out to where we wanted them to be. We made it difficult to get the ball inside and defended the 3-point line.”

McMillian hit Tech’s first 3-pointer of the game to make it 24-14 after the Red Raiders had started the game 0-for-5 behind the arc. Isaacs would hit the second on the next trip down and Toussaint the third to cut WVU’s lead to 29-22 with seven minutes to play until halftime. Another 3-pointer by Williams was followed by a layup from Toussaint after a steal from Isaacs to extend an 8-0 run that had the Red Raiders to within two at 29-27. Battle drilled a 3-pointer for WVU to stop the run and hold off Tech’s momentum. WVU would lead 38-30 on another Battle 3-pointer and then were back up double-digits with a 3-pointer from Kriisa. WVU was 8-for-11 on 3-pointers at that point. Tech was 5-for-11. Williams drilled the team’s sixth first-half 3-pointer and Toussaint followed with a layup for a 41-37 score with a minute before halftime.

Tech opened the second half with 3-pointers from Walton and Toussaint to get to within two points two minutes into the half and tied the game at 45-45 with a Jennings layup on a Toussaint assist. McMillian gave Tech its first lead of the game at 52-50 with a transition 3-pointer (15:35) off Toussaint once again assisting. Tech was 9-for-21 on 3-pointers after McMillian’s third of the game that gave him 11 points. Yalaho made his second shot of the game with a free-throw line jumper and was followed by Toussaint coming up with a steal and fastbreak layup. Tech led 56-51 after the 7-1 run but saw WVU fight back and take a 57-56 lead on an Edwards inside shot eight minutes into the half. Isaacs would hit a deep 3 – his second of the game – to give Tech a 59-57 lead going into the under-12 media timeout.

McMillian hit his fourth 3-pointer of the game for a 66-63 lead with 7:33 remaining after Edwards had tied the game on the other end. Toussaint was at 21 points with a jumper for a 68-64 lead and Isaacs and Williams pushed it to 74-66 with back-to-back baskets before a free throw from WVU with only 3:39 remaining. Williams started a late-game push that put the game away with a 3-pointer with 2:15 remaining to give Tech a 77-68 lead and was followed by McMillian hitting his fifth 3-pointer to give the Red Raiders their first double-digit lead of the night.

The Red Raiders return to action against Oklahoma State at 8 p.m. on Tuesday at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma before finishing the regular season against No. 15 Baylor on Saturday, March 9 at United Supermarkets Arena. The game will be senior day for Joe Toussaint and Warren Washington along with student managers Beau Martin, Jake Hirst, Tye Scogin and Marlei Burrowes.

Release Provided By WES BLOOMQUIST Texas Tech Athletics

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