Skyforce Earn Split at Tulsa As Road Trip Ends
Earn is the operative word. In a stretch of five games over ten days since the start of January, the Skyforce had dropped the first four. The fifth was the best defensive effort for Sioux Falls in a long time and the reward was a 94-82 win over Tulsa at SpiritBank Event Center on Saturday snapping that four-game skid.
Early in the contest, Tulsa got a rhythm going with Reggie Williams leading the charge with 8 points in the first 12 minutes to take a 25-23 lead. From there the sledding got considerably tougher as both teams turned up the defensive intensity. There was a feel that a sequel to the 82-80 overtime slugfest in early December was in early production.
The visitors put the game away with a 15-0 burst early in the fourth quarter to put the game on ice. The lead briefly touched 23 for Sioux Falls (12-7) before a little relaxation set the stage for a Tulsa (5-15) rebuttal to set the final score.
Tulsa head coach Darko Rajakovic said in his pregame remarks in effect the game would come down to who wanted to win more. The motivation to snap a four game losing streak was enough for the Skyforce to break through on the road and win for the first time in Tulsa since December 5, 2012. Crucial to the effort for the Skyforce was holding Tulsa to 30-87 (35 percent) shooting from the floor. Computing only the two point shots taken, the 66ers were 17-55 (31 percent) plus a 60-54 Skyforce edge on the boards.
The aforementioned Reggie Williams did his part to fuel the 66ers attack with 24 points. The Skyforce got high output from Henry Walker with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists. Also deserving of honor were DeAndre Liggins (18 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists), Justin Hamilton (18 points, 7 rebounds 2 blocks), Anthony Mason, Jr. (14 points, 10 rebounds, 4 steals 3 assists) and Tre Kelley (14 points 7 assists, 5 rebounds).
Friday will mark the next chapter for both squads. Tulsa will head west to battle with Bakersfield while Sioux Falls will return home for their first ever meeting with the Delaware 87ers.