The Hustle tipped off their final home mini-series prior to the Showcase Cup with the first of two matchups against the undefeated Rio Grande Valley Vipers. The Hustle enter the matchup 4-4 in the games leading up to the Cup as they’ve struggled a little with consistency to start the season. The Hustle were dominant on the road against the Spurs but then got beat soundly by the Magic a week later. With just 4 games remaining prior to the Cup, the Hustle need some solid games against the Vipers to improve their place in the standings. The Hustle got Jarrett Culver and Yves Pons sent down by the Grizzlies to help them against the Vipers. Unfortunately for the Hustle, they would be without Matt Hurt and Darnell Cowart in the matchup.
Both offenses got things going early as the Hustle found themselves up 12-8 at the midway point of the first quarter. Shaq Buchanan and Ahmad Caver had 5 points a piece to pace the Hustle offense early, while the Vipers got 6 points from Daishen Nix (27% from deep) who hit two triples in the opening minutes. The Hustle couldn’t pull away though but they were able to keep their lead at the end of the first quarter as they led 26-22.
The Vipers opened the second quarter on a 5-0 run to take their first lead of the game. The Hustle were able to respond to the fast start by the Vipers to retake the lead but couldn’t create much separation from the Vipers. The Vipers came back to tie the game a few times but they couldn’t do much after tying things up. The Hustle got hot in the final minutes of the quarter and went on an 11-0 run to take a 53-42 lead into the halftime break.
The Vipers offense came out on fire to start the second half, hitting 3 triples on their first 3 possessions. The Hustle offense was able to keep up with the Vipers offense in the opening minutes of the 3rd but the Vipers turned turnovers into points and were able to cut the Hustle lead down to 1 by the midway point of the 3rd thanks to a 17-7 run. Jarrett Culver was dominant in the 3rd quarter, scoring 16 points including scoring 8 straight Hustle points to help them keep their lead into the quarter break. After allowing the Vipers to come back and tie the game, the Hustle were able to extend their lead back to 5 at the end of the quarter.
The Hustle defense was suffocating the Vipers offense in the opening minutes of the 4th as they started the quarter on a 6-0 run to extend their lead back to double digits. The Hustle couldn’t quite pull a way from the Vipers, but were able to keep a sizable lead into the midway point of the 4th. The Hustle offense got going midway through the 4th and jumped out to a 20-point lead with 5 minutes left in the game. The Hustle were able to build upon that lead and finished the game with a final score of 116-92. It was a dominant effort by the Hustle defense who held one of the league’s best offensive teams to just 92 points.