EDINBURG, Texas – The Rio Grande Valley Vipers (34-16) defeated the Memphis Hustle (28-22) on Friday night in the Western Conference Semifinal game, 135-118.
Right out of the gate, both sides were ready to play as they posted good numbers on offense. The Vipers were able to control the first quarter and led 37-24 as the period came to an end. Houston Rockets two-way player Vincent Edwards led the charge with eight individual points for Rio Grande. For the Hustle, Kyle Casey was the leader in scoring as he put up six points to keep Memphis on pace.
Rio Grande turned on the afterburners as the half closed out with the help of back-to-back three-pointers by Michael Frazier who tallied 15 points, three rebounds before going into the break. Houston Rockets assignee Isaiah Hartenstein was a force to be reckoned with for the Vipers as he posted a double-double in the first half after totaling 15 points, 11 rebounds, adding two assists.
Memphis trailed 70-55 despite the efforts of Dusty Hannahs who scored 13 points for the Hustle. Memphis Grizzlies two-way player Yuta Watanabe had 11 points, three rebounds, two assists on the half.
In a second half not fit for the faint of heart, the Vipers tied in scoring in the third quarter 32-32 but were able to recover as the final quarter rolled around.
Once the final buzzer hit the Vipers were elated as they celebrated a home victory 135-118, sending them into the Western Conference Final. Both teams fought hard but the environment in Bert Ogden Arena and a strong offensive push catapulted Rio Grande past Memphis.
Frazier totaled 33 points, eight rebounds, two assists on his way to leading the scoring effort for the Vipers tonight. Hartenstein closed out with 22 points, 15 rebounds, five assists. Houston Rockets assignee Gary Clark had three points, two assists. Rio Grande had 32 points off the bench with Dakarai Tucker scoring 12 of those points.
Hannahs ended the night on a season-high 32 points, just one shy of tying his career-high (33). Memphis Grizzlies assignee Jevon Carter was able to post 23 points, four rebounds and six assists for the Hustle. Watanabe closed out his line with 13 points, six rebounds, five assists.