Wolverines’ Isiah steals spotlight from NBA legend for one night

With NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas in town, it was only appropriate that UVU’s own Isiah would put on a show.

Junior transfer Isiah Williams led a scorching Wolverine offense with 26 points en route to a 95-92 win over Florida International University. Thomas, a member of the NBA Hall of Fame, is the head coach of FIU.

Williams’ scoring output tied his career-high, set five days earlier at Portland State.

Thomas, who played for the Detroit Pistons and managed the New York Knicks, could only watch as another scoring guard from Chicago dominated the court. Thomas, who grew up with Williams’ father in Chicago, spoke briefly to Williams after the game.

“[Williams] played well against us at home and he played well tonight. I’m happy for him, happy for the kids –especially the Chicago kids,” Thomas joked. “I see you got two Chicago kids on the roster, so coach [Hunsaker] knows where to get the players.”

The other Isiah said he respects Thomas, but didn’t let that respect overcome his desire to see the Hall-of-Famer on the losing side.

“My dad talked about [Thomas] a lot, because they grew up together. My dad called me up before we played at [FIU] just to make sure I said hi,” Williams said. “It felt real good to get the win – against him,” Williams added.

It could not have felt good for Thomas to see the Wolverines come out on fire in the first half. UVU hit 66-percent from the field and from deep, led by senior Jordan Swarbrick’s perfect 4-for-4 from behind the arc and 20 first-half points.

UVU finished the game with 53-percent shooting and 10-for-22 on three pointers.

“We were just moving the ball real well, going inside-outside,” Swarbrick said. “A lot of times when we drove it, they’d help off and double and I’d get a lot of nice passes. Everyone was just getting good and open looks.”

The open looks for the Wolverines disappeared in the second half but opened up for FIU. The Panthers, led by Alex Legion’s six three-pointers, went on a 17-4 run that pulled them within four after trailing by as much as 18.

UVU freshman point guard Holton Hunsaker stepped up with 17 second-half points, including three timely three-pointers.

The Panthers would close the gap to four again with just over five minutes left, but junior forward Geddes Robinson pulled down five offensive boards in the second half to give UVU several second-chance points and possessions.

Wolverines Coach Dick Hunsaker lauded his team for their poise under pressure in the second half.

One thing I really tried to emphasize and tried to dwell on this week in preparation of the holidays is I have a group of character kids. I have a great group of kids,” Coach Hunsaker said. “If you have character kids that will keep competing, keep listening, keep fighting, keep scratching, keep believing, it will work out.”

“I think that character was displayed in the second half,” Coach Hunsaker said.

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