Vipers fall short to Hustle

SOUTHAVEN, Miss. – The RGV Vipers (1-1) fell to the Memphis Hustle (1-2), 124-111, in the Hustle’s home opener Friday at the Landers Center.

The first half featured 25 lead changes and seven ties as the teams went back and forth. Memphis knocked down 20 of its first 36 field goal attempts (.556 percentage), but the Vipers stayed within reach with three-point shooting, converting on 9-of-17 (.529) from long range to start the game while the Hustle started just 2-of-8 (.250) in that same span.

The Hustle held an 83-81 lead with 7:17 remaining in the third quarter before the defense clamped down on the Vipers’ attack. Memphis would hold the Vipers to just seven points for the remainder of the quarter to take a double-digit lead (99-88) into the final frame, leading by as many as 16 before closing out the win.

Memphis earned the win despite shooting just 8-of-27 (.296) from three-point range while the Vipers knocked down 19-of-41 (.463) attempts. The Hustle overcame that discrepancy in part by forcing nearly twice as many turnovers (23-12) as the Vipers and totaling 12 steals to the Vipers’ three. Additionally, the Hustle almost doubled up the Vipers in points in the paint (66-36), taking advantage of a flurry of high-percentage of shots.

Grizzlies assignee Jevon Carter and two-way player Yuta Watanabe led the way for Memphis, tying for the team-high with 25 points apiece. Carter also grabbed six rebounds to go with three assists. Watanabe was an efficient 8-of-12 (.667) from the field and converted on 8-of-9 (.889) free-throw attempts. Doral Moore scored all 14 of his points (6-8 FG) in the first half. Brandon Goodwin (13 points,) Tanner McGrew (13 points) and Kyle Casey also reached double figures.

Two-way player Vincent Edwards and Danuel House led the Vipers with 16 points each. Five other players scored in double figures, including 15 points from starting point guard Angel Rodriguez. Rockets assignee Zhou Qi added 12 points while Brandon Sampson was held to just 11 after scoring 27 points in the first meeting between the two teams. Michael Frazier (13 points) and Dakarai Tucker (10 points) both reached double figures off the bench.

The Vipers will hold their Military Appreciation Night on Nov. 15. That night will be the Vipers next home game and tipoff is set for 7 p.m. against Austin Spurs.

Season tickets for the Vipers 2018-19 season are on sale now. For more information, contact the RGV Vipers at 956-56-ARENA or visit www.rgvipers.com.