The Memphis Hustle were defeated by the Rio Grande Valley Vipers 119-103 in the season opener Saturday night in Bert Ogden Arena.
Memphis struggled to shoot well in the first half, going just 19-for-53 (.358) from the floor, including 3-for-20 (.150) from three-point range. The Vipers attacked the basket, leading to 21-of-43 (.488) shooting while earning trips to the free throw line, making 15-of-19 (.789) free throws.
The Hustle went on a 12-3 run over a 1:08 stretch in the fourth quarter to try and close the gap, but the margin was too much. Memphis had a better second half of shooting, finishing 42-for-98 (.429) but only shot 8-for-34 (.235) from three-point range. The Vipers were 41-for-86 (.477) from the floor and 13-for-35 (.371) from long distance. Rio Grande Valley out rebounded Memphis 59-33. The Hustle defense forced 25 turnovers (12 steals), while only turning the ball over 10 times (four Vipers steals).
Brandon Goodwin led all scorers with 32 points (14-23 FG) while grabbing a team-high eight rebounds to go with five assists. Markel Crawford scored 18 points. Tanner McGrew added 16 points off the bench on 6-of-8 shooting. Tarik Phillip added 10 points.
Brandon Sampson led the Vipers with 27 points (5-10 3PT). Danuel House scored 20 points. Zhou Qi (12 points, 16 rebounds) and Bruno Caboclo (12 points, 10 rebounds) both had double-doubles. Angel Rodriguez added 16 points. Michael Frazier came off the bench to chip in with 12 points.
The Hustle return to action on Monday, November 5 against the Sioux Falls Skyforce on the road at 6:30 p.m. The team returns home for a rematch against Rio Grande Valley on Friday, November 9 at 7 p.m. at Landers Center. Tickets are still available starting at $10 and fans wishing to attend can purchase tickets at all Ticketmaster locations, ticketmaster.com, the Landers Center Box Office, online at MemphisHustle.com or by calling (901) 888-HOOP.