RGV Vipers struggle in all phases of loss to Grand Rapids Drive

HIDALGO — RGV Vipers coach Matt Brase attributed his team’s one-sided loss to the Grand Rapids Drive on Friday to a lack of competing.

“How bad do we want to win?” Brase said. “Is it about individual stats? Or is it about team wins? And my whole thing is with team success comes individual success. Guys trying to do it on their own, not only are they going to look bad, the team is going to look bad.”

The Drive handed the Vipers a 129-101 defeat, marking RGV’s fourth loss in its past five games. Grand Rapids (15-18) shot 54.0 percent for the game and 51.3 percent from beyond the arc, becoming the first team this season to make 20 3-pointers against RGV (19-13).

“We didn’t compete,” Brase said. “That’s the bottom line. We didn’t play hard. We didn’t communicate. We didn’t do the things on defense we needed to do. That’s why we gave up 129 in the game, because the effort level is not there.”

The Vipers held a one-point lead after the first quarter, but the Drive led 62-51 at halftime. Grand Rapids turned the game into a blowout during the third quarter, using a 20-1 run over a span of four minutes to take a 98-62 advantage with 3:34 remaining in the period.

The Drive scored 45 in the third quarter, tying the most points the Vipers have yielded in a quarter this season. Grand Rapids hit 18 of 28 shots from the field and 7 of 9 from beyond the arc during the period.

“We weren’t ourselves today,” Vipers guard Julien Lewis said. “We were lackadaisical on the defensive end and the offensive end. We should push the pace like we normally do. We got away from that a little bit. We have another game tomorrow. We just have to move on to the next.”

The Vipers also struggled on offense, shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 25.0 percent from beyond the arc.

Lewis, Chris Walker and Troy Williams tied for the team lead in scoring with 16 points apiece, while RJ Hunter added 15 and Monte Morris had 12. Chinanu Onuaku scored eight points with 12 rebounds.

“We didn’t shoot the shots that we value,” Brase said. “We didn’t move the basketball like we need to. As a result, we got our butts whooped.”

RGV’s most glaring mark was a 13-for-28 (46.4 percent) showing at the free-throw line.

Walker made just 4 of 12 at the charity stripe. After the game, he returned to the State Farm Arena floor for a few extra free throws.

“I’ve never in my career shot that bad in a game, or even a practice shot 4 for 12,” Walker said. “So I told myself, ‘Man, after the game, go out there and just get some extra shots.’”

The Vipers also suffered a loss off the court on Friday, as the Denver Nuggets announced that Tyler Lydon had undergone successful arthroscopic surgery on his left knee after suffering an injury playing with RGV on Wednesday. The Nuggets said there is no timetable on Lydon’s return. Lydon had averaged 12.6 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in 15 appearances for the Vipers this season.

“It’s a huge impact,” Brase said. “Tyler is one of our best players for us. Thoughts and prayers with him. I was texting with him yesterday, just trying to keep his spirits up. He gave a lot to this organization and this team, and we’re thankful for what

Tyler did, and it’s unfortunate to go down with an injury.”

Isaiah Hartenstein (ankle), Cleanthony Early (foot) and Tony Wroten (ankle) also missed Friday’s game due to injury.