HIDALGO, Texas — The Rio Grande Valley Vipers (15-8), the affiliate of the Houston Rockets, scored a season-high 155 to defeat Santa Cruz Warriors (11-10) 155-148.
Three Vipers players had double-doubles on the night. Gary Payton II led the home team in scoring and rebounds with 30 points and 12 rebounds. Kyle Wiltjer totaled 10 rebounds and 26 points. Darius Morris led the team in assists with 14. Morris also scored 29 points. Santa Cruz’s LaDontae Henton led both teams in scoring with 32.
The 155 points were a season-high for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. The team also had 40 assists in the game, an all-time record for the Vipers. RGV shot at a 57.6 percent and have not lost yet when shooting better than 50 percent.
The opening quarter had back-to-back action throughout the quarter. There were nine lead changes and the biggest lead was a Vipers five point lead. Darius Morris wasted no time to get double digits in points. Morris scored 10 on the opening quarter and went 4-5 on the court. Only five points separated both teams with the vipers holding a 34-29 lead.
Rio Grande Valley used the second quarter to distance themselves from the Santa Cruz Warriors. The Vipers scored 44 points in the second half to finish the first half ahead of the Warriors 78-64. Both Darius Morris and Kyle Wiltjer, on assignment from the Houston Rockets, scored eight points on the second quarter.
Santa Cruz started cutting away to Rio Grande Valley’s lead and at one point they cut the deficit to five points. A 7-0 run propelled by a Chris Johnson, who dunked and then had a block at the other end, helped shift momentum back to the home team. The Santa Cruz scored 48 points in the final quarter but it was not enough as the Vipers’ 43 points in the fourth secured the 155-148 win and the tenth win at home.