In a back and forth battle, the Austin Spurs made the crucial plays in the closing moments to secure a victory over the Sioux Falls Skyforce 111-105 on New Year’s Eve.

Over the course of the game the lead switched sides 11 times and the game was tied on seven occasions. The last tie came at 105 after Sioux Falls hit four straight at the free throw line to knot the score with just over a minute left.

From there Austin’s Julian Washburn converted a jumper in the lane and Lonnie Walker IV tipped in a missed shot with just over 9 seconds remaining to put the game in Austin’s hip pocket.

Skyforce Head Coach Nevada Smith recognized the effort both teams mustered through the course of the contest.

“It was a hell of a basketball game. Guys were making plays throughout the fourth quarter. Ben Moore hit a big three point shot, we hit some big free throws. They just made a couple more plays than we did.”

Skyforce Forward Raphiael Putney put emphasis on Austin’s rebounding prowess which proved to be the difference.

“The one thing that allowed them to stay in the game was their offensive rebounding. We didn’t do a great job of getting offensive rebounds despite their bigger lineup. Everybody was crashing the boards for them. We needed to match their intensity on the glass.”

Leading Austin was Nick Johnson with 24 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists. The aforementioned Moore finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds and Washburn had a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Yante Maten paved the way for Sioux Falls with 25 points and 12 rebounds. Putney chipped in 24 points and Bubu Palo has a season-high 24 points of his own.

After a day off to celebrate the New Year, Austin and Sioux Falls will meet again Wednesday night at the Sanford Pentagon.

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