Southaven, Miss. – The Memphis Hustle (25-21) took another huge step toward a potential playoff berth with a 126-115 victory over the Sioux Falls Skyforce (23-22) Monday night at Landers Center. With the win, the Hustle now sit a half a game ahead of Salt Lake City for fifth place in the Western Conference.
After Sioux Falls opened the game on an 8-2 run, the Hustle responded with a 13-0 run over the next 2:30 and wouldn’t trail the rest of the way, leading 43-28 after the opening frame. Memphis’ 43 points tied a season-high for points in a quarter. The home team shot 15-of-21 (.714) from the field, while also knocking down all four three-point attempts and all nine free throws, and assisted on 11 of its made baskets.
Memphis cooled off in the second quarter, despite leading by as many as 18, shooting 40.0 percent (10-25 FG) as Sioux Falls began to claw its way back into the game. The Skyforce cut the deficit to as little as seven, but Tyler Dorsey hit a three-pointer with 2.1 seconds left to give the Hustle a 70-57 halftime lead.
Sioux Falls wouldn’t go away in the third quarter, continuing to crawl back in it and further limiting Memphis from the field (9-29 FG; 2-9 3P). Despite multiple responses from the Hustle, the Skyforce came within three points late in the third. However, Dorsey ended the quarter on a high note yet again, converting an old-fashioned three-point play with 3.8 seconds left to give Memphis a 96-90 lead heading into the fourth.
The Skyforce kept it close in the final period until a quick 8-0 run by the Hustle pushed the difference back to 116-105 with 4:22 remaining in the game. Turnovers were key for the Hustle all night, who forced 22 turnovers and turned those into 33 points of their own, as Sioux Falls shot 54.0 percent (34-63 FG) from the field through three quarters before losing their touch in the fourth.
Yuta Watanabe posted his second straight double-double, scoring 26 points and grabbing a team-high 11 rebounds. Both Grizzlies assignees had big nights for Memphis. Dorsey led the Hustle with 27 points to go with six rebounds and five assists. Jevon Carter (19 points, 11 assists) was productive in all facets, posting a double-double to go with six rebounds, four steals and a block. Tarik Phillip (15 points), Julian Washburn (11 points) and Doral Moore (10 points) also reached double digits for the Hustle.
Miami Heat two-way player Duncan Robinson led Sioux Falls in scoring with 27 points on 6-of-11 shooting from beyond the arc. Rodney Purvis wasn’t far behind with 26 of his own on 10-of-19 shooting overall. Bubu Palo approached a triple-double with 23 points, 10 assists and eight boards. Emanuel Terry scored 15 points and grabbed 15 rebounds. Marcus Lee had 18 points (6-8 FG) and seven rebounds off the bench.
The Hustle begin a three-game road trip on Friday, March 15 at Cox Convention Center against the Oklahoma City Blue at 7 p.m. Memphis returns to Landers Center for its final regular season game, and fourth and final meeting with Oklahoma City, on Monday, March 22 at 7 p.m. Tickets are still available starting at $10 each and fans wishing to attend can purchase tickets at ticketmaster.com, the Landers Center Box Office, online at MemphisHustle.com or by calling (901) 888-HOOP.