The wide gulf disappeared from the night before, as a much closer affair played out with Sioux Falls prevailing over Grand Rapids 116-107 Saturday night at the Sanford Pentagon.

Respect and urgency were the buzz words issued going into game two of back-to-back games with the Skyforce (31-8) coasting to a 33-point win the night before over the Drive (18-21). The visitors set the tone early until 11 straight by Sioux Falls briefly swung the momentum.

Skyforce Coach Dan Craig credits the Drive for closing the first half and opening the third quarter by taking matters in their own hands.

“I thought they really attacked. They were trying to get in the paint (using different methods) and shot a lot of free throws in the first half. They only shot five in the second half. There were a lot of one-on-one collisions, but overall we played defense without fouling as the game went on. They have some shot makers. You’ve got to get into their space and not allow them comfort J’s or two feet in the paint on post-ups.”

Defensively holding Grand Rapids to 18 points in the fourth quarter went a long way to securing the win plus successive 3-point buckets from DeAndre Liggins (16 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals) and Bubu Palo (22 points) stoked the offensive fire. Speaking of Jarnell Stokes, he had 21 points and 8 rebounds to support the effort.

Briante Weber (12 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds) can also lay claim to being part of the defensive disruption in the fourth quarter.

“Early in the game they got it out in transition and they got some cheap ones. We needed a full-court squeeze in the fourth quarter and we did it together as a defensive-minded team. A lot of teams can function when they are comfortable. It’s the times of discomfort when you find out who the real basketball player is.”

Devin Ebanks was the most comfortable offensive player of the Drive as he logged 27 points. Henry Sims put together and outstanding 22 points and 12 rebounds for consecutive double-doubles on the weekend. Lorenzo Brown also scored 22 with 8 assists.

Both teams will set out for road games for the next scheduled appearances. Grand Rapids goes to Fort Wayne Wednesday and Sioux Falls will gear up for Canton on Friday.

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