Dragan Bender Scores 20 Points, But Herd Drops Season-Opener to Windy City
OSHKOSH, Wis - The Wisconsin Herd, the NBA G League affiliate of the Milwaukee Bucks, are now 1-2 all-time in season-openers after falling to Windy City 129-111 (box score) on Friday night inside Menominee Nation Arena.
Four Herd players scored in double figures led by Milwaukee Bucks assignee Dragan Bender and D.J. Hogg, who scored a team-high 20 points apiece. Cam Reynolds tallied 19 points and five rebounds, while Frank Mason posted 18 points on 6-for-12 shooting. Luke Maye had nine points off the bench, and Jemerrio Jones grabbed a team-best 10 rebounds.
For the season-opener, Windy City had three Two-Way players and two assignment players on their roster. The Chicago Bulls assigned guard Denzel Valentine and forward Daniel Gafford to Windy City, and the Bulls had the services of P.J. Dozier, who is one of Denver's Two-Way players. Three Windy City players tallied 20 or more points led by Valentine who totaled game-highs in points, rebounds and assists. He posted 25 points, 18 rebounds and eight assists, while Gafford and Max Strus notched 20 points each. Dozier recorded 18 points, and Ferrakohn Hall had 13 points off the bench. Justin Simon collected 11 points and seven rebounds and Milton Doyle had 10 points in a reserve role.
Despite both teams shooting a combined 6-for-18 in the opening four minutes, Wisconsin shot 41 percent from the floor in the first quarter and led by as many as six points in the frame. Hogg led all players with seven first quarter points, while Mason and Jones combined to tally 10 points. The Herd's defense was stout in the opening 12 minutes, holding Windy City to 26 percent shooting from the floor and 18 percent shooting from three. The period featured five ties and two lead changes, but it was Wisconsin who led 28-22 at the end of the quarter.
After taking a 54-50 lead into halftime, Windy City extended their advantage to double figures on a three-point field goal by Hall. The Bulls stretched their lead to 17, which at that point was the largest of the night for either team. In total, Windy City opened the period on a 20-7 run, while the Herd went nearly four minutes between baskets. The Herd, however, concluded the quarter with a 24-12 spurt of their own, and trailed by five at the end of three quarters.
To start the fourth quarter, Wisconsin scored 11 of the first 17 points and tied the game at 92 with just under nine minutes remaining in the contest. Windy City countered with seven unanswered points of their own, and regained the lead, 99-92 with 7:52 left to play. The mini 7-0 spurt is what put the Bulls ahead for good. Windy City eventually retook a double-digit lead, led by a many as 19 and won 129-111.
With the loss, Wisconsin falls to 2-7 all-time against Windy City.
The Herd will be back in action tomorrow night as they hit the road for the first time this season. They'll conclude their home-and-home series and take on the Windy City Bulls in Hoffman Estates, IL. Tip-off at Sears Center Arena is set for 7PM CT.
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