Stars Burn out as South Bay Sweeps the Season Series
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - The South Bay Lakers won their 20th game of the season as they beat the Salt Lake City Stars, 118-114, on Friday night. Travis Wear and Ivica Zubac both scored 25 points and Gary Payton II came off the bench with 24 points of his own as South Bay (20-12) completed the season sweep against the Stars. Salt Lake City (8-27) was led by Naz Mitrou-Long's 27 points, but couldn't grab the win down the stretch.
South Bay jumped out to a 16-point lead through one, 37-21, behind nine points from Zubac and eight points from Payton II. Payton II hit all four of his shots including a thunderous dunk to close out the period. Payton II added 12 more in the second quarter to reach 20 first half points, while Zubac added nine more to finish the half with 17. However the Stars were able to lessen the deficit to three, 64-61, at the half as Isaiah Cousins poured in 15 points in the second.
The Lakers led by six, 89-83, through three but couldn't quite put away the Stars despite nine points in the quarter from Wear. Wear had seven points in the fourth, but the game came down to the final minute. Payton II hit a go-ahead jumper with less than a minute remaining and Scott Machado sealed the victory with four free throws in the closing seconds to give himself 11 points in the final period.
Mitrou-Long's strong performance (27 points, seven rebounds, nine assists) paced the Stars, while Georges Niang finished with 21 points and seven rebounds. Cousins (17 points) and Erik McCree (14 points) scored in double digits, while Diamond Stone (16 points, six rebounds) and Deonte Burton (10 points, four assists) led the second unit.
Wear (25 points, nine rebounds, four assists) and Zubac (25 points, eight rebounds, two blocks) handled the brunt of the scoring for South Bay and Payton II (24 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, three steals) continued his all-around play off the bench. Machado (20 points, six assists) and Demarcus Holland (12 points) also reached double figures, while Stephaun Branch and Andre Ingram combined for 12 points off the bench.
The South Bay Lakers will return home to host the Maine Red Claws on Monday, February 5 at 7:00 from the UCLA Health Training Center. This matchup will mark only the second time that the two teams have met in El Segundo.
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