The Hustle looked to remain unbeaten in the 3rd game of their 7 game home stand against the Delaware Blue Coats. The Blue Coats, strengthened by the assignment of Zhaire Smith alongside former Hustle players Doral Moore and Julian Washburn, were looking to start a winning streak of their own after winning their previous game. The Hustle came into the game looking to extend their lead on the Western Conference while the Blue Coats looked to stay in the middle of the playoff picture in the East.
The Hustle offense came out firing out of the gate. Yuta Watanabe scored the teams first 8 points and didn’t stop there, finishing the quarter with 23 points behind five 3-pointers. The Hustle jumped out to a 19 point lead early, but a late Blue Coats run helped them climb back into the game and end the quarter down by just 8 points. Watanabe led the way with 23 points, shooting 5-8 from beyond the arc while the Blue Coats got back in the game thanks to a combined 18 points from Marial Shayok and Michael Bryson. The Hustle scored a season high 43 points in the quarter in another dominating on the offensive end.
The Hustle and Blue Coats went back and forth for the first part of the second quarter as the Hustle couldn’t build upon their lead while the Blue Coats couldn’t cut into it. After trailing by 8 through the first half of the quarter, the Blue Coats began slowly chipping into the Hustle lead as the second half of the quarter went on to cut the lead to as small as one late in the first half. The Hustle were barely able to hold on to their lead heading into halftime. Marial Shayok led the Blue Coats with 19 points while Yuta Watanabe led the Hustle with 29 (only 6 in the second quarter). After scoring a franchise high 152 on Saturday, the Hustle were on pace to get close to that record as they led 75-74 at the break.
It was a back and forth game for most of the 3rd quarter as neither team could pull away from the other. The Hustle’s offense began to force a ton of 3’s and couldn’t really get into a good rhythm offensively as they started missing some of the shots they usually make. Ultimately the Hustle trailed by 9 once the 3rd quarter was all said and done.
After being outscored 72-55 in the second and third quarters, the Hustle kicked off the 4th quarter on a 23-2 run to reclaim a double digit lead over the Blue Coats. Underrated players Ahmad Caver and Shaq Buchanan led the Hustle charge while most of the starters sat on the bench during the run. The pesky Blue Coats wouldn’t go away though, as they fought back and didn’t let the Hustle put the game away until late in the quarter as Josh Jackson and Yuta Watanabe got hot from beyond the arc thwarting any Blue Coat comeback effort as the Hustle went on to win.
- Yuta Watanabe can take over offensively when he wants to
- Shaq Buchanan and Ahmad Caver are sneaky great depth options for the Hustle
- Josh Jackson, again, is too good for the G-League when he wants to be
Yuta Watanabe- 40 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists
Josh Jackson- 19 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks
Marquis Teague- 16 points, 4 rebounds, 9 assists
Jarrod Uthoff- 15 points, 13 rebounds, 3 steals
Dusty Hannahs- 12 points, 3 assists