They say that the goal in the NCAA Tournament is to “survive and advance”. That mantra also applied to the Air Raiders on Friday in The Basketball Tournament (TBT). Comprised of former NCAA basketball players, most of them being Texas Tech basketball alums, the Air Raiders took down the B 1 Ballers 90-89 thanks to a huge day from Davion Warren.
The Red Raider alum who played this past season for Mark Adams after transferring from Hampton scored a game-high 32 points including two clutch free-throws to end the game (TBT rules stipulate teams must hit a target score after the clock has been turned off in the 4th quarter). It was a clutch moment in a game that at halftime didn’t look as if the Air Raiders would need someone to play the role of hero.
After trailing by seven points to end the first quarter, the Air Raiders would storm out to a 47-36 halftime lead. However, once the 90-point mark was established as the winning score, the B 1 Ballers would storm back from an 82-75 deficit to eventually take an 87-86 lead.
That’s when Warren would step up to score his team’s final four points, the last two of which came at the free-throw line. It capped a day that saw him hit 11 buckets on 18 attempts. But he wasn’t the Air Raiders’ only savior.
ShawnDre’ Jones, a product of The University of Richmond, also added 32 points in the winning effort. He and Warren combined to amass 71.1% of the Air Raiders’ offensive output. In fact, none of the rest of the roster managed to hit double digits in the contest.
Of the other Red Raiders alums who participated, Zack Smith and Justin Gray made the biggest impact with each scoring eight points. Meanwhile, Tariq Owens added two points while blocking three shots.
But thankfully for the Air Raiders, Warren was able to take his game to a level that we didn’t see during his lone season as a Red Raider. Averaging a respectable 9.4 points per game this past season, Warren was a solid contributor to Tech’s Sweet 16 team but never had the type of scoring outburst that he showed on Friday.
In fact, his best offensive showing was a 23-point game against Kansas State in Lubbock. Outside of that, he didn’t have a 20-point game. What’s more, he hit or surpassed the 15-point mark just six times.
But against the B 1 Ballers, he was constantly left open and time and again he would bury jumpers to make the defense pay for giving him open looks. Now, he will look to continue his solid play against the top-seeded Aftershocks on Saturday evening as the Air Raiders look to continue their pursuit of the $1 million grand prize for winning The Basketball Tournament. And if Warren plays as well on Saturday as he did in round one, his team just might have a shot at cashing in.