Skyforce Send Stampede Packing in the Presence of Heat President Pat Riley
The Sioux Falls Skyforce solidified their case for a playoff berth by dispatching the Idaho Stampede for the second straight night 108-96 at the Sanford Pentagon.
Entering the two-game head-to-head matchup the grip was somewhat tenuous on a playoff spot for both teams. One game separated the two teams and a sweep for either side was going to send a statement.
Sioux Falls (27-19) trumpeted their arrival with a withering 4th quarter defense. The Stampede (23-21) held the lead 81-80 after 3 periods with a decent chance of meeting their scoring average of 109 points per game. Shooting 4 of 19 from the floor overall and missing all five from long range will set you back.
Kevin Murphy did his part as the number one prospect in the NBADL by scoring 24 for the visitors, but it was a heavy load by virtue of 7-18 shooting from the floor and 8-9 from the line. For the second straight night, DeAndre Liggins was Murphy’s main tormentor by cutting off driving lanes and limiting open shots. It might have slowed Liggins offensively (13 points) by expending so much energy, but the win was worth the reward. Dee Bost (12 points, 10 assists) and Vander Blue (10 points) were equally frustrated by the network of traps and switches employed by the Skyforce.
For Sioux Falls, Tre Kelley capitalized on his ability to get open by notching 25 points with 12 assists and Justin Hamilton finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Leaving a lasting impression by far was Henry Walker with a very efficient 18 points, hitting his first 6 shots including 4-4 from downtown plus 7 blocked shots, 7 assists and 6 rebounds. See it all with the adjoining clip.
With 2 games upcoming in Maine on Friday and Sunday, the Skyforce can get the playoff goal crossed off the list. Idaho can still control their destiny by imposing their will at home on Bakersfield Wednesday and Reno this upcoming Friday and Saturday.
Beyond the scope of the game, among the 3,387 in attendance was Miami Heat President Pat Riley. The Hall of Famer was on a scouting trip that started in Los Angeles with the goal of reaching St. Louis to watch his alma mater Kentucky face Wichita State. Sioux Falls happened to be a convenient side trip to see the farm team in action.