The Grizzlies return home to the friendly confines of the Landers Center after a 7-game road trip that saw them go 5-2 and improve to 11-16 on the season. It’s a one game stop in Southaven before the Hustle head off on their final road trip of the season, a 3 game one starting this upcoming weekend. The Hustle success has coincided with the team getting healthy, as well as assignment help from Santi Aldama.
The Hustle enter tonight’s matchup just 2 games back from the 6th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Stars, owners of the worst record in the West, on surface should be an easy win for the Hustle. However, the Hustle account for 2 of the Stars 7 wins on the season. With Carsen Edwards and his 26 points per game leading the way, the Hustle can’t overlook the Stars.
The Hustle were once again with the services of Santi Aldama for the 8th game in a row, while they got Yves Pons back for his second consecutive game with the team. The Stars, meanwhile, were without both two-way players Xavier Sneed and Trent Forrest who were with the Utah Jazz.
It was the Yves Pons show to start the game as he scored the Hustle’s first 7 points as the took an early 9-4 lead. Carsen Edwards was a monster in the quarter as well, scoring 17 points as the Stars took a slim lead midway through the first quarter. Not a lot of defense in the first, but the Hustle created some distance thanks to some Sean McDermott buckets in the final minutes to take a 39-31 lead at the end of the first.
The Stars went on a run to start the 2nd quarter and were able to tie things up early in the quarter. The teams traded baskets throughout much of the 2nd quarter, as neither defense could get a stop. In similar fashion to the first quarter, the Hustle defense locked in and got some stops in the final minutes of the quarter. They were able to take a 72-61 lead into the halftime break after ending the quarter on a 9-0 run.
Ahmad Caver was excellent in the first half for the Hustle, scoring 16 points and 7 assists. Santi Aldama chipped in 11 points and 3 steals. Sean McDermott with his best game since his return from injury, scoring 13 first half points on 5-6 shooting. The Stars got a combined for 42 of the Stars 61 points in the first half.
Yves Pons was dominant to start the 3rd quarter, scoring 7 points early in the quarter as the Hustle jumped out to their largest lead of the night, up 84-67. The Stars spent most of the quarter trimming the Hustle lead back to single digits with under 4 minutes left in the quarter. The Stars were able to make it a 3-point game late in the quarter, but the Hustle responded and took a 101-95 lead into the final frame.
The teams traded baskets to start the 4th before the Hustle went on a run to extend their lead back up to 16 points midway through the quarter. The Hustle were able to maintain their lead throughout the rest of the 4th and cruised to a 124-112 victory over the SLC Stars.
The win moves the Hustle 12-16 on the season with two big matchups coming up against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
Sean McDermott is BACK. The former Grizzly two-way player made his season debut on the road trip and played limited minutes. The minute restriction didn’t stop McDermott from having a huge imprint on the game tonight as he finished with 17 points in 24 minutes in his Southaven debut. McDermott was efficient from the field, making 6 of his 8 attempts and going 3-5 from deep.
Pons has his best game at the professional level. I was pretty harsh on Pons in my Hustle Report this morning, specifically mentioning his struggles from beyond the arc in his time with the Hustle. Pons responds with the best game he’s at since leaving the University of Tennessee. Pons scored 19 points and shot 3-3 from beyond the arc.
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