The Hustle return home to the friendly confines of the Landers Center following a 5-game road trip that saw them go 2-3 on the road. The Hustle (3-3) welcome the Birmingham Squadron (2-4) to Southaven as both teams look to improve upon their standings in the Showcase Cup.
In addition to Kenneth Lofton Jr., who has been with the team on assignment since they hit the road, both Xavier Tillman and Vince Williams Jr. were assigned to the Hustle for tonight’s matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies on an off day with a home game tomorrow. The Squadron have two-way player Dereon Seabron as well as assignee Kira Lewis Jr. active to help them in their pursuit of victory tonight.
It was a slow start for both teams as neither squad could consistently score in the opening minutes of the game. While both offenses struggled, it was the Squadron who woke up towards the end of the first quarter to take a 24-19 lead at the end of the first quarter. It was a slow quarter for both teams with the Squadron shooting an efficient 55.6% from the field in the quarter but also turning the ball over 6 times.
The Hustle offense was flowing much better to start the second quarter as they were able to tie things up on the opening minutes of the quarter. The teams stayed leveled throughout the first half of the second quarter, with the Hustle retaking a slim lead with just over 4 minutes left in the half. The Hustle couldn’t extend their lead to anything higher than 5, with the Squadron closing the half on a run to tie things up at 40 at the break.
Xavier Tillman led the Hustle with 10 points and 7 rebounds, but on just 3-9 shooting from the field. Sean McDermott chipped in 8 points off the bench, including two big shots from beyond the arc to get the Hustle offense going in the second quarter. The Hustle shot just 31.9% from the field and 30% from beyond the arc but turned 11 Squadron turnovers into 7 points in the low scoring half.
After a slow first half, Kenneth Lofton Jr. got things going offensively with the first 4 points of the second half. The Hustle couldn’t extend their lead much further than that though, as the teams traded baskets throughout the quarter. Junior went off in the quarter scoring 16 points on 7-8 shooting. The Hustle were able to take a 69-66 lead into the final frame thanks to Junior’s efforts.
The Hustle were able to take their largest lead of the night in the opening minutes of the 4th quarter, extending their lead up to 8 points. The Squadron were able to quickly respond and tie things up midway through the final frame. The Hustle offense struggled to get things going after having the 8-point lead, with the Squadron defense zeroing in on Junior and forcing anybody else on the Hustle to beat them. The Hustle offense just disappeared down the stretch as they fall 94-85 to the Birmingham Squadron.
Junior finishes with 24 points and 13 rebounds.
The loss drops the Hustle to 3-4 on the season. They’ll have a week off before facing off against the Texas Legends next Tuesday.