The Memphis Hustle struggled in the second half and fell 138-124 to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers Tuesday at State Farm Arena. After leading 63-62 at halftime, the Hustle were outscored 76-61 in the second half and gave up 138 points for the second straight game against the Vipers. Both teams have scored at least 120 in each of the two meetings this season.
The teams traded blows in the first half, accounting for 15 lead changes and six ties. However, with the Hustle leading 71-65 with 9:24 remaining in the third quarter, the Vipers would outscore the Hustle 29-10 over the next 6:33 to take a 13-point lead.
Memphis was, however, finally able to get things going from beyond the arc, finishing 16-of-35 from three-point range and tying a season-high in makes (8) by halftime.
Kobi Simmons led the Hustle with a career-high 31 points on 11-18 shooting (6-11 3P). Austin Nichols recorded his first career double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds) and added three blocks. Durand Scott (13 points) saw his first minutes of the season after missing the first five games with a right ankle injury. Omari Johnson and Jordon Crawford also scored 13 points while Shaquille Thomas posted a career-high 11 points.
Chinanu Onuaku (12 points, 15 rebounds, 11 assists) recorded a triple-double for Rio Grande Valley. Troy Williams and Zhou Qi had blistering nights from the field, combining to shoot 18-of-24. Williams finished with 26 points and eight rebounds while Qi posted 18 points, five rebounds and four blocked shots. Chris Walker posted 22 points off the bench on 8-of-11 shooting for Rio Grande Valley.
The Hustle return to action with a home back-to-back this weekend, starting with Friday’s matchup against the Salt Lake City Stars at 7 p.m. in the team’s lone appearance at FedExForum this season. The team will return to Landers Center Saturday for the franchise’s first meeting with the Erie Bayhawks at 7 p.m. Plaza Level tickets for Friday’s game are still available starting at $15 and fans wishing to attend can purchase tickets at all Ticketmaster locations, ticketmaster.com, the FedExForum Box Office, online at MemphisHustle.com or by calling (901) 888-HOOP.