EDINBURG, Texas – The Rio Grande Valley Vipers hit half their three-pointers as they defeated the Memphis Hustle, 135-118, on Friday night in Bert Ogden Arena. The Vipers advance to the Western Conference Finals, where they host either the Santa Cruz Warriors or the Oklahoma City Blue on Tuesday, April 2 at 7 p.m.
Rio Grande Valley finished the game by going 20-for-40 (.500) from three-point range. The Vipers’ 20 triples were the most by a Hustle opponent in franchise history. The Hustle nearly kept pace however, finishing 18-for-38 (.474) from the perimeter.
Memphis outshot Rio Grande Valley for the game, making 44-of-89 (.494) field goals while the Vipers were 49-for-100 (.490). Rio Grande Valley owned the boards, outrebounding Memphis 22-6 on the offensive glass which would lead to a 30-11 advantage in second chance points. The two teams combined for 35 turnovers, with the Vipers outscoring the Hustle 30-23 off of the giveaways. Rio Grande Valley led the game wire-to-wire, improving to 26-3 when leading at halftime.
Dusty Hannahs led Memphis with a season-high 32 points (6-12 3P), one point shy of matching his career-high, and had a game-high three steals. Hannahs broke his own franchise record for points scored by a Hustle reserve. Jevon Carter finished with 24 points and a team-high six assists. Yuta Watanabe added 13 points, six rebounds and five assists. Markel Crawford added 11 points off the bench. Crawford finished the season strong, scoring in double-digits in the last three games. Julian Washburn and Doral Moore rounded out the Hustle scoring with 10 points apiece.
The teams shot similar percentages in the first half, with Memphis going 22-for-46 (.478) and Rio Grande Valley shooting 26-for-54 (.481) from the floor. The Vipers were excellent from beyond the arc in the half, making 11-of-18 (.611) triples. The Hustle weren’t far behind, making 9-of-16 (.563) threes in the half. The Vipers had twice as many rebounds as the Hustle in the half (32-16), including a 12-2 edge on the offensive boards. Memphis used a 10-2 run late in the second period to trim the Rio Grande Valley lead to 49-48, but the Vipers later responded a quick 8-0 run over the last 1:04 to lead 70-55 at halftime.
Michael Frazier led all scorers with 33 points (9-14 3P) while grabbing eight rebounds. Frazier was named the G League Most Improved Player earlier in the week. Isaiah Hartenstein finished with a double-double, dropping 22 points and collecting 15 boards. Vincent Edwards added 14 points (4-5 3P) and five rebounds. Chris Walker had 12 points off the bench, while fellow reserves Jordan Johnson and Dakarai Tucker both scored 10.
The Hustle finished the regular season with a 28-22 regular season record and made the G League Playoffs for the first time in the franchise’s second year of operation, having defeated the Stockton Kings 122-119 in the First Round.