Tight Battle Goes to Visiting Iowa to Start Skyforce Season
It was a see-saw tussle that had a little bit of everything except overtime. The Iowa Energy was the team that put together the last push to take a 98-95 win over Sioux Falls at the Sanford Pentagon.
A thirteen point first quarter advantage for Sioux Falls (0-1) was built with aggressive defense. Once Iowa’s Joel Wright found his stroke, the Energy (1-0) rallied back to lead by seven in the second stanza.
Neither team could get comfortable with the lead during this contest. The spread was one in favor of Iowa 52-51 at the half and a four point Iowa lead to start the fourth as both teams took turns surpassing one another.
Over the final 7:31 Iowa outscored the ‘Force 20-10 as the difference in the game. A heave by rookie Greg Whittington was off the mark for the tie at the horn and Iowa did just enough to tip the scales in their favor.
Whittington says they can improve on what they did in game one. “Our defense is there we just have to finish out plays by boxing out and rebounding.”
Coach Dan Craig also agrees with the defensive effort to start the season. “We let them get 31 points in the second quarter. That isn’t us. Overall I saw some great habits that we’ve been building (in camp). At times we looked great. We just didn’t do it consistently enough.”
Tre Kelley led Sioux Falls in scoring with 21 points with 8 assists, Whittington finished with a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds and DeAndre Liggins posted 16 points, 8 assists, 4 blocked shots and 2 steals. Get a feel for the action in the clip below.
Ninth-year pro and NBA veteran Cartier Martin stated his case to return to the top level with 32 points and 7 rebounds for the Energy. More help came from Wright who sprung for 15 points in the first half (17 total) and a monster night on the boards for Alex Stepheson with 17 rebounds and 13 points.
Iowa plays next on Wednesday against the Idaho Stampede and the Skyforce will battle with Westchester on Friday.