The Hustle were set to face off against the Salt Lake City Stars in a match-up that had major playoff implications. Going into the game, the Hustle had a one game lead on the Stars for the 6th and final playoff spot with 12 games remaining in the season. Both teams had their two-way players available, as well as a player gone competing with Team USA. Kyle Casey and former Hustle player Tanner McGrew are in Greensboro, NC and were unavailable going into the final stretch of the season. The Hustle needed Tyler Harvey to continue his hot February streak to keep hold of their playoff positioning.
The Hustle jumped out to an early lead over the Stars behind Tyler Harvey and Justin Tillman. In the first 6 minutes, both players scored 4 points a piece and helped set the tone defensively. The Hustle were able to maintain a 3 to 5 point lead for the greater part of the quarter, wrapping up the quarter with a 30-27 lead behind a Doral Moore putback slam with seconds remaining on the clock. Tyler Harvey finished the quarter with 7 points with both Doral Moore and Julian Washburn dropping 6 points in a balanced scoring effort by the Hustle.
Things got testy in the second quarter for the SLC Stars as both Deonte Burton and Stephaun Branch picked up technical fouls within the first 4 minutes of the quarter. Despite losing their cool, the Stars were able to take the lead over the Hustle early in the quarter. Opposite of the 1st quarter, the Stars led the 2nd by 3-5 points for most of the quarter, not able to extend the lead past 8 points. Ultimately the Stars took the 61-57 lead into halftime behind Stephaun Branch (12 points) and Jarius Lyles (11 points). The Hustle were led by Tyler Harvey’s 12 points, with Tarik Phillip dropping in 10 points to go with 3 rebounds and 3 assists.
The third quarter couldn’t have started any worse for the Hustle as Tyler Harvey went down with an ankle injury in the opening minutes. The absence of Harvey fueled the Stars on a run that saw them get an 18 point lead. The Hustle were able to cut the lead down to 10 late in the quarter with Harvey still in the locker room. Unfortunately for the Hustle, the Stars were able to recover and finish the quarter with a 92-78 lead.
The Stars maintained a double digit lead for most of the quarter, as the Hustle were without Harvey basically the entire second half. Behind a strong effort from Dusty Hannahs and Julian Washburn, the Hustle were able to climb back in the game late and eventually take the lead over the Stars. The final minutes of the game was a back and forth affair between both teams that sent ultimately sent the game into overtime.
Yuta Watanabe opened up the overtime period by banking in a deep 3 pointer. The Stars responded with a nice play to get Stephaun Branch an easy dunk. Both teams traded baskets to give the Hustle final possession up by one point with 20 seconds remaining. With a short 2 minute overtime period, the Stars had to play the foul game. It paid off for the Stars as Markel Crawford split his free throws to make it a 2 point game with 10 seconds remaining. The Stars threw the ball away and Crawford split his free throws to give the Stars one last chance down 3 with 2.9 seconds left. Naz Mitrou-Long comes up just short and the Hustle complete the comeback and win 122-119!