Skyforce Keep Knicks at Arm’s Length to Take Game One
Step one to a championship was achieved on Tuesday night as Sioux Falls seized control early and parried every challenge to defeat Westchester 109-95.
Game one of this best of three series began with Westchester (0-1) scoring 8 straight. What happened next was a 33-10 burst for the Skyforce (1-0) which meant the Knicks were playing catch-up for the duration. Numerous times the Knicks were able to pare the lead down to ten, but visitors always had an answer with the lead always maintaining double digit status.
In that pivotal first quarter, Sioux Falls used their defense to create offense by forcing 7 turnovers and convert 16 points in return. Most of those points came transition and close to the basket resulting in a 13 of 19 performance from the floor plus 5 of 8 from the charity stripe. Conversely, Westchester was 8 of 19 and did not go to the line.
The second period was mostly even as the Knicks picked up the shooting percentage with Jimmer Fredette and Jordan Bachynski coming alive. However Sioux Falls kept pace courtesy of Greg Whittington outside and Jarnell Stokes inside.
Coming out of intermission, both coaching staffs emphasized the defensive side of the game as both teams racked up a combined 44 points in the third period. About the same can be said for the fourth stanza with 43 points apiece. Free throw shooting would be the only substandard aspect of the Skyforce performance (18-31) which played a small factor in the outcome.
Stokes hit three quarters of his shots from the floor and led all players with 28 points plus 11 rebounds. Right behind for Sioux Falls was Rodney McGruder with another solid 20-point night and DeAndre Liggins turned in double-double of his own (14 points, 11 assists).
Fredette was a 20-point man himself for the Knicks and Bachynski compiled 18 counters. Travis Trice (17 points) and Thanasis Antetokounmpo’s double-double (13 points, 11 boards) were also noteworthy.
Game two means Westchester will have to win to force a game three. It will happen Friday night in Sioux Falls at the Sanford Pentagon.