SIOUX FALLS, SD — The Sioux Falls Skyforce (1-0) came storming back after trailing the Memphis Hustle (0-1) by as many as 18 points early in the third quarter to steal a 120-116 victory in their 2017-18 debut.
The Skyforce got off to a slow start in the first quarter, shooting just 37.9 percent from the field as Memphis Grizzlies two-way player Kobi Simmons (25 points, six assists) propelled the Hustle to an early lead with nine points in the opening frame.
Sioux Falls was unable to make up any ground in the second, as each team scored 27 points in the quarter. Erik McCree (29 points, six rebounds) paced the Skyforce early, keeping them within striking distance with 13 first-half points.
Already ahead 60-51 at the break, Vince Hunter (23 points, seven rebounds) and Memphis Grizzlies assignee Ivan Rabb (20 points, 15 rebounds, 6-7 FG) stayed hot early in the second half as the Hustle built an 18 point lead. However, it was all Skyforce from that point on. Sioux Falls outscored the Hustle 41-29 in the third quarter, and were able to hang on in the closing seconds of the game to earn the four-point victory.
McCree was accompanied in scoring by Denver Nuggets two-way player Torrey Craig (24 points, six rebounds, six assists, five steals), Tony Mitchell (21 points, seven rebounds, four assists), and Ike Nwamu (20 points), who all scored 20-or-more points for Sioux Falls. Craig and Nwamu combined for 44 points off the bench, and finished +27 and +35 respectively in the game.
Marquis Teague scored 19 points to go along with seven rebounds and seven assists in the loss for the Hustle, while Larry Drew II notched a game-high 11 assists in the win for Sioux Falls.
Though the Skyforce were outrebounded by a margin of 50-38 in the contest, the team finished +10 in the assist column after notching 18 assists in the second half alone. After shooting above 57 percent from the field in the first quarter, Memphis failed to shoot over 46 percent in each of the next three periods, including just 33.3 percent shooting in the costly third quarter.
The Skyforce return to the Sanford Pentagon on Monday, November 6 for their home opener against the Lakeland Magic (0-1), a game that will be broadcast on ESPNU and the ESPN App. The game marks the first of a three-game home stand for Sioux Falls. The Hustle return to action tomorrow, Sunday, November 5 as they face the Salt Lake City Stars (0-1) in the second game of a three-game home stand to start the season.