Albuquerque Edges Tulsa in Division Shootout
Tulsa, Okla., Feb. 20, 2009 - Despite a career and game-high 29 points by Keith Clark, and Ryan Humphrey's eighth double-double of the season with 22 points and 12 rebounds, the Tulsa 66ers fell short to the Albuquerque Thunderbirds 113-110 in front of a wild crowd at the SpiritBank Event Center on Friday.
The crowd witnessed a back-and-forth affair, with 18 lead changes and nine ties throughout the contest. Six players from each team scored in double figures, as the Thunderbirds overcame a 15-of-27 (.556) shooting performance from the free throw line by going 45-of-86 (.523) from the field to outlast the 66ers. Tulsa made 37-of-77 (.481) field goals on 27 assists, and shot 74 percent from the free throw line.
"We can win with the effort we displayed tonight," 66ers Head Coach Paul Woolpert said. "There were some mental mistakes and a few times we didn't finish plays, but the effort was definitely there."
The big men led their teams at tip off, as Humphrey scored 12 points and Jasper Johnson tallied 10 points for the Thunderbirds in the first quarter. A Will Conroy layup with 6.8 seconds remaining in the period gave the Thunderbirds a 27-26 advantage after the first period.
Four three-pointers, including three from Moses Ehambe, rallied the 66ers on a 15-5 run to start the second quarter as they built a 42-33 edge. The Thunderbirds stormed back with an 11-5 run of their own to tie the game at 44 on a David Monds layup with 6:16 remaining until halftime. Both teams scored 33 points while shooting above 56 percent in the quarter, with the Thunderbirds ahead 60-59 at the break.
Albuquerque built their largest lead of six points right out of the gate in the third quarter, as Conroy scored seven of the team's first nine points in the period. But Tulsa battled back to gain an 89-85 edge at the end of the quarter, when Derrick Dial scored on a jumper and a three-pointer, and Clark hit a floating jumper. The teams were tied at 107 with 1:17 remaining in the game, but two free throws each for Johnson and Toree Morris, along with a David Noel layup were too much for Tulsa.
Gary Forbes and Dial each finished with 16 points for the 66ers (7-23), while Ehambe added 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting from three-point range.
The Thunderbirds (15-12) were led by Conroy's 29 points, while Johnson added 26 points and eight boards. Monds contributed a double-double with 21 points and 17 rebounds, Antoine Agudio added 11 points, and Noel and Keith McLeod each finished with 10 points.
The teams will battle it out again Saturday night in Tulsa.
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