The Hustle welcome back the Rio Grande Valley Vipers for Game 2 of their mini-series ahead of the Showcase Cup after handing the Vipers their first loss of the season on Tuesday night. It’s the final home game of the Showcase Cup portion of the season as the Hustle head to Birmingham before flying out to Las Vegas for the Cup. After having both Jarrett Culver and Yves Pons on Tuesday, the Hustle were without the extra hands due to the Grizzlies facing off against the Los Angeles Lakers at the same time. Due to their own injury issues, the Hustle had just 7 players available for the matchup against the Vipers.
The Hustle didn’t stand down from the challenge to start the game despite the Vipers jumping out to an early 6-point lead. They clawed their way back and took the lead by the midway point of the quarter. A flurry of 3-points by the Vipers gave them the lead late in the first but the Hustle kept fighting as they found themselves down 37-33 at the end of the quarter.
The Hustle jumped out on a 5-0 run to retake the lead early in the second quarter. We had an altercation between Kahlil Whitney and Reggie Hearn as Whitney tripped Hearn, knocking him to the ground. Hearn took exception to the foul and got in Whitney’s face, earning him a tech while Whitney was called for the flagrant foul. The Hustle got a big run by Cameron Young and found themselves up by 8 midway through the second quarter. Young was big for the Hustle, scoring 10 of his 15 first half points in the second. The Hustle defense shined in the second while the offense got going as the Hustle found themselves up by 18 late in the quarter. A late Vipers run helped them cut the deficit down to 14 as the Hustle led 69-55 at the halftime break.
It was a well-balanced effort for the Hustle with every player scoring at least 5 points, led by David Stockton’s 16 and Cameron Young’s 15. The Vipers were led by Daishen Nix’s 13 points and Anthony Lamb who scored 10 points on 3-9 shooting from beyond the arc.
Both teams traded baskets throughout much of the 3rd quarter as the Vipers couldn’t cut into the Hustle lead. The Vipers started to slowly cut into the Hustle lead making it a 10 point game. That’s when Shaq Buchanan took over and scored 6 straight for the Hustle to help them build their lead back up to as 15. The Hustle being shorthanded started to show late in the 3rd as they struggled to make shots and started to look tired. The Vipers were able to cut into the lead a little bit as the Hustle led 90-81 at the end of the 3rd.
The Vipers cut the Hustle lead down to 3 early in the 4th but the Hustle had enough energy to not let them get any closer by the midway point of the quarter. Both teams traded baskets throughout a majority of the quarter as the worn out Hustle did everything they could to fight off the Vipers run. They got some timely triples by David Stockton and Shaq Buchanan helped the Hustle find enough offensive firepower to outlast the Vipers.
Stockton iced the game with some late free throws as the Hustle held on to win 121-117. It was a great all around effort by the Hustle who had 5 players score in double figures led by Stockton’s 29 points. Shaq Buchanan finished with 21 points, with Cameron Young chipping in 21 points off the bench for the Hustle. Freddie Gillespie finished with a double-double scoring 18 points and hauling in 13 rebounds. Ahmad Caver flirted with a triple-double scoring 9 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists. It was a great game from the Hustle to sweep the mini-series against the Vipers and move to 6-4 on the season.
The Hustle will return to the court on December 13th where they’ll play a back to back against the Birmingham Squadron in the final two games leading up to the Showcase Cup.