Villanova tops Texas Tech in Battle 4 Atlantis quarterfinal matchup

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 give the Red Raiders three double-figure scorers, while McMillian led the reserves with nine points and Lamar Washington added seven points and three assists.

Villanova took a 41-33 halftime lead in a first half that saw five lead changes and the Red Raiders lead by as many as six points. Toussaint led the Red Raiders with seven points and four assists through 20 minutes, while McMillian and Washington had six each in their reserve roles. Cambridge had five, Warren Washington four and two rebounds and Isaacs had three points. Tech was 7-for-19 on 3-pointers in the first half with McMillian and Lamar Washington both going 2-for-4 and Isaacs, Toussaint and Cambridge hitting one each. Tech had an 18-16 rebounding advantage and was holding the Wildcats to 37.9 percent shooting from the field and just 4-for-14 on 3-pointers.

Early in the game, Cambridge hit his first 3-pointer to tie it at 5-all and then a layup for a 7-5 lead. McMillian gave Tech a 10-7 lead with a 3-pointer in the corner next to Villanova bench going into first media timeout and a Lamar Washington 3-pointer gave Tech a 13-9 lead. Isaacs would hit his first 3-pointer of the game for a 20-16 lead. He was the seventh player to score in a game where he would lead the team. Tech fought back in the second half and had it at a 56-53 deficit with a 9-0 run that saw McMillian and Isaacs hitting 3-pointers and a pair of Isaacs free throws cutting it to three. The Wildcats would stop the run with a layup and free throw and quickly turned their lead back into double figures. The game didn’t go into single-digit margins in the final six minutes.

The 14 3-pointers matched the output the Red Raiders had against Texas A&M in their exhibition win over the Aggies. Tech had 14 3-pointers in two games last season, including against Oklahoma State in the final game of the regular season. The Red Raiders were outrebounded in the game by a 39-31 margin and also had 15 turnovers to only 10 by the Wildcats.

Eric Dixon led Villanova with 19 points, six rebounds, and three steals in the game and Justin Moore added 18 points and five assists. The Wildcats were 9-for-24 on 3-pointers and 25-for-58 from the field to get to 85 points. Tech came into the game limiting opponents to just 50.7 points per game which ranked third nationally. That average went up to 59.3 through four games.

Tech is now 0-2 all-time against Villanova after also dropping a game against the Wildcats in the 2018 NCAA Elite 8. Villanova will play North Carolina on Thursday after they advanced by beating UNI in the first round.

Release provided by Wes Bloomquist Texas Tech Athletics

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