The Hustle return to the court following Saturday’s loss to the Erie Bayhawks to face off against the 4-3 Raptors 905. The 905 are coming off a lost to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants last night.
It was yet another slow start for the Hustle, who found themselves down 10 points early. The Raptors were able to build a sizable lead in the quarter behind some hot shooting from deep (started 4-6 from beyond the arc) as well as forcing some turnovers and turning those into points. By the end of the quarter, the 905 cooled from deep but used 8 Hustle turnovers and converted them into 11 points to help them finish the first with a 37-24 lead over the Hustle.
The 905 jumped out to a 17 point lead early in the quarter before an 8-0, sparked by Ahmad Caver, helped them come back and cut the deficit down to single digits. Unfortunately for the Hustle, the turnover problems continued in the second quarter, and the 905 were able to jump back out to a double-digit lead midway through the quarter. The streaky quarter continued as the Hustle were able to climb back and cut the 905 lead back to single digits thanks to back-to-back triples by Bennie Boatwright late in the quarter. The 905 responded to the Hustle run with one of their own, ultimately ending the first half with a 72-63 lead following Ahmad Caver’s buzzer beating triple.
The Hustle came out strong to start the second half cutting the 905 lead down to just 2. The 905 were able to respond to the Hustle run, again, and pull away a little bit and made reestablished their double digit lead by the midway point of the quarter. The Hustle made yet another run late in the quarter and found themselves down just 1 at the end of the 3rd quarter.
The Hustle were able to take the lead early in the quarter and spent a majority of the final period exchanging leads with the 905. The Hustle had a response for every 905 run, and the 905 had a response for everything the Hustle did as neither team could gain separation in the final period. A 5-0 905 run late gave them a 116-111 lead, but back-to-back triples by the Hustle gave them a 117-116 lead with 4 seconds left. The 905 responded with a deep 2 by Henry Ellenson plus the foul to give them a 119-117 lead with a second and change left in the game. The Hustle had solid motion to get David Stockton a good look at the shot to win or tie, but former Hustle player Matt Mooney was able to get his hand in there and strip the ball away from Stockton, sealing the 905 victory.
It was a breakout game from Bennie Boatwright who dropped a career high 26 points on 10-18 shooting, and 6-12 from beyond the arc. The Hustle also got 26 points from Tyrell Terry and 24 points from Ahmad Caver. Unfortunately for the Hustle it wasn’t enough as they lacked an offensive punch in the first quarter that ultimately doomed them.
Talking with Jason March postgame, he’s still clearly frustrated with the teams slow starts saying it’s becoming a bad habit for the team, but he also talked about how he’s proud of the resiliency and the teams ability to always fight back. Says the team had a handful of mental mistakes in the final minutes that really cost them the game.
Jason also talked about how he’s proud to see Bennie Boatwright have a breakout performance after not playing last season, and that he thinks Bennie is finally getting some legs under him after a few games and that it was really nice to see him knock down some shots.
Bennie spoke with us post game and said it felt really good to see the shots fall after not really getting into a rhythm in the teams first few games. He also says the team has to come out with better energy to start the games to avoid the slow starts, but also acknowledges that it’s just the 8th game the team has had together and that they’ll work on it and get it fixed going forward. It was nice to see Bennie have such a positive attitude after a game that would have had most players leave the locker room early.
The Hustle will return to action on Wednesday at 2:00 PM CT to face off against the shiny new toy in the G-League, the G-League Ignite.