The Hustle return home after a 1-1 road trip to host the Iowa Wolves. The Hustle beat the Wolves last week at the Landers Center, but today’s matchup was much different in various ways. The Huslte were without assignees Santi Aldama and Yves Pons while the Wolves were without two-way player McKinley Wright IV. The game also tipped off at a crisp 10:30 AM CT as part of the Financial Literacy Day game. 2,000+ students from the DeSoto County area were able to attend the morning game and cheer on the Hustle, while also learning a bunch about financial literacy. The Hustle enter the game healthier than they’ve been in some time, with just Freddie Gillespie and Sean McDermott out marking just the second game of the season the Hustle have been this healthy.
It was a struggle out of the gate for both teams, as the early tip took some time for them to get into a good rhythm. The teams combined for just 8 points in the first 3 minutes of action before the offenses started rolling a bit later in the quarter. Brian Bowen II followed up his solid performance last week against the Hustle with 10 early points in this one, while EJ Onu chipped in 6 early points for the Hustle. David Stockton hit the showers early after arguing a foul call on the Hustle with a minute remaining in the first quarter. The technical free throws allowed the Wolves to take a 30-22 lead into the second quarter.
It was another slow start to the quarter for both teams, as they both made just one basket a piece in the first 3 minutes of the quarter. The Hustle were able to make it a 5-point game early but an 8-0 run by the Wolves helped them take a 13 point lead midway through the quarter. A quick 6-0 run by Ben Moore helped the Hustle jump right back into things as they cut the Wolves lead down to 2 late in the second quarter. The Hustle were able to use that run to take a late lead on the Wolves but a Vincent Edwards triple in the final seconds allows the Wolves to take a 49-48 lead into the halftime break.
Overall it was a solid half from the Hustle, who mostly just missed shots they normally make. The fact it was a one point deficit despite Shaq Buchanan not playing great (4 points on 2-8 shooting) and Stockton’s early ejection feels like a good omen for the second half. The Hustle were led by EJ Onu (11 points, 5 rebounds, 4 blocks) and Ben Moore (10 points) with Ahmad Caver flashing his all-around game with 6 points, 7 assists, and 3 steals. The Wolves got 12 points a piece from Brian Bowen II and Isaiah Miller to pace their offense.
The Hustle went on a 6-0 run to start the 3rd quarter to retake the lead against the Wolves. The Wolves responded with a 10-0 run of their own to take a 5-point lead midway through the 3rd quarter. In typical Hustle fashion, they clawed back into things after the Wolves built upon their lead and tied the game up with 4 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. The Wolves were able to respond with a run of their own and took an 80-74 lead into the final quarter of the game.
The Hustle were able to keep things close at the beginning of the quarter, but the Wolves went on a run to extend their lead to 10 midway through the 4th. The Hustle were able to claw back and cut the lead down to 4 in the closing minutes of the game. The Hustle struggled to get closer until the final minute of the game. They trailed by 4 with 30.4 seconds left and had the chance to cut it to a one point game but Shaq made just one of three free throws with 11 seconds remaining. Reggie Hearn drains a triple, however to keep the Hustle in things. Vincent Edwards split the free throws with 6.9 seconds left and Ahmad Caver takes the ball coast to coast and tied the game up at 104 with .2 remaining in the game. The Hustle get the stop to send this game to OT!
Ben Moore splits a pair of free throws to start overtime, and then picks up a huge rebound on the defensive end. Moore splits another pair of free throws to give the Hustle a 2 point lead in the final minute. Isaiah Briscoe responds with two free throws to tie things up at 106. The Wolves had the ball with 1.9 seconds left in the OT period but couldn’t get a shot up as we head to a second OT.
Isaiah Briscoe hits a layup to open the OT period and the Wolves were able to get a stop on the other end. Briscoe then responds with a triple to make it a 5-point game with 47.4 remaining. Those were the only points in the second OT period as the Wolves held on to win 111-106 in double OT.
- The Hustle scouting department deserves a raise. The Hustle have gotten excellent production out of guys they’ve had to sign and pick up out of the G League player pool. Cameron Young has been great offensively for the Hustle. EJ Onu is a solid diamond in the rough, flashing his raw potential with some great but admittedly streaky play. Ben Moore was excellent in just his second game in a Hustle uniform scoring 22 points.
- A rough day for the Hustle stars. The big names down in Southaven had an overall bad day offensively for the Hustle. Stockton was ejected after just 3 minutes of action. Shaq Buchanan scored 14 points and 9 rebounds but shot just 5-21 from the field and 0-9 from beyond the arc. Tyrell Terry and Ahmad Caver ultimately finished with pretty solid games as Terry scored 11 points and 7 assists on 5-13 shooting. Caver finishes with 12 points, 7 assists and 5 steals on 5-16 shooting.