Friday sports: Hustle rally for another overtime win
Photo: Kennedy Chandler of the Memphis Hustle drives on Delaware defenders during Friday’s 132-130 overtime win by Memphis at the Landers Center. (Bob Bakken/desotocountynews.com)
The Memphis Hustle has this season played several games ending in the NBA G League’s radical overtime period that’s not a timed period, but rather a “first to seven” untimed overtime.
Apparently that’s all right with coach Jason March’s crew, which won its fifth overtime game overall and second of the regular season with Friday night’s 132-130 victory over the Delaware Blue Coats before 647 fans at the Landers Center in Southaven.
“I think it’s a grand slam by the G League,” March said about the “first to seven” overtime format used this year. “It adds excitement and the amount of strategy that goes into those seven points is crazy.”
Friday’s game likely should not have even gotten to the untimed overtime, though, because the Hustle dominated the Blue Coats through three periods of play, leading at one time by as many as 23 points.
“For us to be up 20, we had to do a lot of really good things,” said March. ‘Our guys played really, really well the first three quarters.”
But March, who later said he had to hold some players back some because of minutes restrictions, saw his squad outscored 38-20 in the final quarter. The Hustle led 105-87 after three quarters, but quickly saw the Blue Coats score six points in the first minute of the final quarter, which set the tone for the rest of regulation.
It was Kenneth Lofton Jr. who came to the rescue for the Hustle. Delaware crept back to tie the game at 116 with 3:51 remaining and took its first lead of the game just over a minute later at 121-118. A layup by Delaware’s Julian Champagnie gave the Blue Coats a 125-120 lead late in the contest, but the Hustle were able to manufacture the final five points of regulation, culminated by Lofton’s basket inside just before the buzzer that sent the game into overtime.
Memphis got the early lead in overtime and when Lofton was fouled in a two-shot situation, his free throw on the first of the two shots was the point that clinched the win for the Hustle, now 5-1 in overtime games and 10-4 in the regular season. Memphis remains one game behind Western Conference-leading Stockton.
“I practice free throws every day, step up to the line and knock it down,” Lofton said about free throws in pressure situations. “I put in the work in the gym and do it in the game.”
The 5-1 overtime record includes a 3-1 mark in extra time during the Showcase Cup. Delaware fell to 8-5 with the loss for the regular season and is in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
“Our execution in overtime was incredible,” March said. “It’s maybe the best we’ve had all year.”
Lofton led the way with a game-high 33 points along with 15 rebounds for Memphis, equalling a 33-point performance Lofton had during the Showcase Cup on Dec. 16 in a 117-113 victory over Rio Grande Valley.
Jake LaRavia scored 31 points for the Hustle and Kennedy Chandler added 19.
Braxton Key led the Blue Coats in scoring with 21 points and 14 rebounds, one of seven Delaware players in double figures and the only one with a double-double.
Memphis and Delaware finish their two-game back-to-back series Saturday night at the Landers Center, starting at 7 p.m..
LOFTON NAMED AN NBA RISING STAR: Lofton, a two-way player for Hustle and Grizzlies, has been selected to the NBA Rising Stars competition as a G League participant. Lofton, who played collegiately at Louisiana Tech, will be taking part in the mini-tournament with rookies, second-year players, and G League players, played during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend in Salt Lake City.
LIMITED PREP BASKETBALL ACTION FRIDAY: Lewisburg and Hernando were able to get a basketball doubleheader played Friday night, despite DeSoto County Schools canceling classes for a fourth straight day due to the ice storm warning. Power outages for at least one high school gymnasium also kept games from being played.
But the Patriots and Tigers did take the court Friday and for the Lewisburg boys, the 71-62 victory was the 20th of the season, a new school record.
Meanwhile, Northpoint Christian traveled up to Harding Academy in Memphis for a boy-girl regular season basketball doubleheader.
Here’s the scoreboard for games that were played Friday in DeSoto County:
Prep boys’ basketball
- Lewisburg 71, Hernando 62
- Lewisburg: Amarion Davis 18, Josiah Nelson 16.
- Hernando: Justin Hammett 19.
- Harding Academy 58, Northpoint Christian 57
- Northpoint: Christian Gilliland 27
Prep girls basketball
- Lewisburg 51, Hernando 39
- Lewisburg: Alicia Kautzky 13, Allie Carroll 11
- Hernando: Damyia Cummings 14
- Harding Academy 49, Northpoint Christian 33
- Northpoint: Nailah Herrera 17
NBA G League basketball
- Memphis Hustle 132, Delaware 130 (overtime)
JUCO women’s basketball
- Hinds 54, Northwest 49