Hot Shooting Energy Downs Skyforce
The game of basketball is momentum driven. The Sioux Falls Skyforce momentum stopped in unique fashion and the Iowa Energy took advantage on the way to a 104-94 triumph at the Sanford Pentagon. It’s very possible that the outcome might have hinged on one event during the fourth quarter.
With just over 9 minutes left in the game, Anthony Mason, Jr. had just electrified the crowd with a high flying dunk. On the ensuing trip down the court, Mason then anticipated a pass and had a clear path in front of him. Instead of the steal and a clip for the highlight reel to tie the game, Mason tipped the ball and bumped into the official who was trailing the play. The ball rolled out of bounds with Iowa maintaining possession and the Energy made their lead stand for the duration.
It’s impossible to say that Sioux Falls (11-4) would have rolled to the win if that play had been made. Iowa (10-4) had answered every challenge prior to that sequence and made the plays down the stretch to secure victory. Shooting 51 percent from the floor against the best defensive team in the league will instill a bit of confidence. The season series is now tied at two games apiece with four more to be played before the season concludes.
Kalin Lucas paced the visitors with 22 points and 7 assists off the bench as Lucas ceded his starting spot to Marquis Teague (13 points, 6 assists) who is on assignment from the Chicago Bulls. Larry Owens also had a spirited effort off the bench in a 15-point, 14-rebound night. Also worthy of note was the inside presence of Jarvis Varnado who contributed 12 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks.
DeAndre Liggins, the reigning NBA Development League Performer of the Week turned in another stellar performance of 20 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals. Mason, Jr. had his finest performance of the year with 18 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks.
Sioux Falls now prepares for the annual D-League Showcase next week in Reno, NV with games on Sunday against Bakersfield and Monday with the Los Angeles D-Fenders. Iowa has to play at Ft. Wayne Friday night before their showcase appearances on Tuesday and Thursday.