It’s not surprising, but it is amazing how the Sioux Falls Skyforce erase double digit deficits and pick up wins like Friday night’s 105-91 triumph over the Erie BayHawks at the Sanford Pentagon.

During the second quarter, Erie (11-22) played their best 12 minute stretch of the game. In the process of shooting 14 of 20 from the floor and 8 of 9 from the line, the BayHawks scored 39 points forced 6 Skyforce turnovers and entered halftime leading 60-49.

Dan Craig says the diagnosis was simple and the changes were evident for the rest of the contest. Erie shot 9 of 39 from the floor in the second half and recorded just one assist after intermission.

“We didn’t have our defensive identity in the first half. We weren’t finishing possessions because they scored a lot at the end of the shot clock (in the first half). Once we made that switch defensively in the second half we held them to 31 points. That was fun to watch.”

On offense, the Skyforce (25-7) consistently worked the visitors into foul trouble earning two disqualifications from the BayHawks. Craig credited the foundational principles of spacing and attacking for keeping Erie off-balance.

“When we get the spacing we want offensively it puts defenses in compromising positions and they have to make tough decisions. We also forced some turnovers that allowed our attackers to get into the paint which was key to getting them in foul trouble.”

A vital part of the Sioux Falls success this season has been the steady veteran hand of Tre Kelley. Alas, the NBA call-up never came for the All-Star guard and he signed with a team in Turkey. Bubu Palo will assume a lot of the point guard chores going forward.

“It’s quite an adjustment without him. He’s such a great leader and has been the rock of our team. As a collective unit we will try to make up for Tre together.”

Palo (22 points) was the fulcrum of the attacking tendencies and the fouling. The result was a 15 of 20 performance at the free throw line. The number of attempts in one game ranks second in the league this year. Rodney McGruder continued his tear with 24 points on 10 of 14 shooting and posted a season high 7 assists. Keith Benson’s well rounded 15 points, 13 rebounds, 6 dimes, 2 steals and a block fit nicely in the plan.

Erie’s Tyler Harvey came away with 26 points, 21 in the first half. Former Orlando Magic call-up Keith Appling added 24 to bolster the visitor’s effort.

One more victory will secure a winning season for the ‘Force and Erie will be the ones on the opposite side in the second game of the back-to-back set on Saturday. One will go for the season sweep and the other will be hoping to salvage.


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