Vipers Can't Overcome Free Throw Differential in Loss to Skyforce
HIDALGO, TEXAS - Despite outrebounding the Sioux Falls Skyforce 52-to-37, the defending NBA Development League champion Rio Grande Valley Vipers hit just 11-of-20 shots (55%) from the foul line, making 14 fewer shots in 10 fewer attempts in a 98-91 loss to the Sioux Falls Skyforce on Monday at State Farm Arena in front of a crowd of 5,086.
"If it wasn't for that, I thought we really had control of the game in the first half. We put them at the line a lot, and as a result, we had a difficult time making that up," Vipers head coach Chris Finch said.
The Vipers (28-13) and Skyforce (10-31) found themselves in a back-and-forth game right away, with the first quarter featuring 14 lead changes as the Vipers took a 30-26 lead. The Vipers led throughout the second quarter, leading by as many as eight when Jon Scheyer hit a three-pointer at the 4:21 mark to make it 44-36, but the Skyforce pulled to within 52-50 at halftime.
The Vipers opened the third quarter on a 7-2 run over the first 2:01 to take a 59-52 lead on a three-pointer by Terrel Harris over the. The Skyforce responded with a 9-2 run to tie the game at 61-61 on a basket by Chris McCray three minutes later. After Richard Roby gave the Vipers the lead back with a floater, Patrick Ewing Jr. scored five-straight points on a slam dunk and a three-point play to give the Skyforce a 66-63 lead at the 5:48 mark.
Mouhammad Faye hit a three-pointer to give the Vipers an 81-79 lead with under five minutes remaining, but the Skyforce responded with a 9-0 run, capped by a deep three from the top of the key by Ewing, to take an 88-81 lead with 2:27 remaining. Patrick Sullivan broke the run by hitting 1-of-2 free throws, but Dominique Coleman came down the court and hit a lay-up to make it 90-82 and put the game out of reach.
Ewing led all scorers with 24 points to go with 12 rebounds. Coleman scored 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting while McCray contributed with 15 points and five assists.
The Vipers were led in scoring by Scheyer, who scored a career-high 21 points on 9-of-21 shooting, to go with six rebounds, a career-high tying seven assists and two steals. Faye recorded his fourth double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds while Roby narrowly missed a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.
The Vipers and Skyforce complete the season series on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. The first 1,000 fans in attendance will stadium cups, courtesy of Briar Cliff. Fans can take advantage of the State Farm Family 4 Pack, which is four tickets, four hot dogs and four sodas for just $44. Additionally, fans can purchase hot dogs, popcorn and soda for $1 each as well as $1.50 beer at the concession stand. Every donation of four non-perishable food items at the door to benefit the Hoops Against Hunger food drive, presented by Action 4 News and Clear Channel Radio (KTEX 100.3, Wild 104, The X 105.5, Hot Kiss 106.3 and Classic Hits 1700 AM), will be rewarded with one free ticket starting when the doors open at 6:00 p.m.
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