Watanabe Logs Career-High 40 Points
Southaven, Miss. – The Memphis Hustle (20-6) defeated the Delaware Blue Coats Wednesday night by a score of 138-121 at Landers Center, marking the team’s 17th double digit victory and its third straight win by at least 16 points. Trailing 107-98 after three quarters, Memphis opened the first 6:30 of the fourth quarter on a 23-2 run and held Delaware scoreless for the first 5:34, outscoring the Blue Coats 40-14 in the game’s final 12 minutes.
Yuta Watanabe scored a career-high 40 points on 14-of-20 shooting (8-11 3P) to go with five rebounds and two assists. His 23 first quarter points (8-11 FG, 5-8 3P) set a new franchise record for points in any quarter and his 29 first half points mark the most by a Hustle player in any half this season. His 14 made field goals and eight three-pointers also mark personal bests.
After Memphis’ massive run to start the fourth quarter, Delaware used a 10-2 run to pull within four (123-119) with 3:27 remaining. Josh Jackson then knocked down consecutive three-pointers to push the lead back to double digits and spark a 15-2 run to close the game for the Hustle.
In the fourth, Memphis also set a new franchise mark for field goal percentage in a quarter (.761; 16-21 FG) while knocking down six of eight three-point attempts. The Hustle stymied the Blue Coats’ previously efficient attack on the opposite end, holding the visitors to 27.8 percent from the field (5-18 FG; 2-8 3P) and forcing six turnovers that led to 13 Hustle points.
Despite Watanabe’s early outburst, the Blue Coats trailed just 26-20 at the 5:49 mark before a 12-0 run over a span of 2:24 inflated the lead to 18. Memphis pushed the lead to 19 (43-24) with 2:51 to go, but Delaware closed the quarter on an 11-0 run to cut the lead to eight. Memphis reached the 40-point plateau in the first quarter for the second straight game.
The Blue Coats chipped away at the lead in the second to close the gap to 75-74 at halftime, continuing to make shots while Memphis cooled off. Delaware shot 56.0 percent (14-25 FG) overall and 63.6 percent (7-11 3P) from long range while Memphis managed just 39.3 percent (11-28 FG) and 28.6 percent (4-14 3P).
Delaware took its first lead of the game when Xavier Munford knocked down a three to open the second half. The teams exchanged leads four more times in the third quarter, but Delaware outscored Memphis 33-23 to take a nine-point lead (107-98) into the final frame.
Jackson scored 12 of his 19 in the fourth quarter, knocking down 4-of-5 three-point attempts. Marquis Teague (16 points, nine assists) fell just shy of his first double-double of the season off the bench. Jarrod Uthoff recorded his 10th double-double this season, posting 15 points and 13 rebounds. Memphis is averaging 137.3 points over its last three games and 133.4 over its last five games.
Seven Blue Coats reached double figures, led by two-way player Marial Shayok’s 23 points to go with five assists and three boards on the night. Four double figure efforts came in a reserve role, including Haywood Highsmith’s 16 points on 5-of-8 (4-6 3P). Michael Bryson added 15 points while starting center Christ Koumandje added 14 points, seven boards and a game-high five blocks.
The Hustle return to action on Friday, January 24 at 7 p.m. CT Raptors 905 at Landers Center for the second installment of Hustle & Hounds. Tickets are still available starting at $10 each and fans wishing to attend can purchase tickets at ticketmaster.com, the Landers Center Box Office, or by calling (901) 888-HOOP.