The Memphis Hustle (24-21) rebounded from a tough loss on Wednesday by defeating the Santa Cruz Warriors (30-14), who entered tonight with the best record in the league, 109-94 Friday night at Landers Center.
Memphis is now in a three-way tie with the Sioux Falls Skyforce (23-20), Monday's opponent, and the Salt Lake City Stars (24-21) for the last two playoff spots in the Western Conference.
The first quarter featured eight ties and three lead changes with the Hustle ultimately leading 30-25 after the opening frame. In the second, Memphis went on a 10-2 run over the span of 2:51 to take a 55-39 lead 2:06 left before taking a 60-44 advantage into the break. The Hustle then outscored the Warriors 12-4 to start the first 3:20 of the second half and took its largest lead (72-48) of the game. Santa Cruz would cut the lead to nine early in the final period, but wouldn't come any closer.
Three Hustle players recorded double-doubles, including both two-ways. Yuta Watanabe had team-highs in both points (17) and rebounds (11). Julian Washburn finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, marking the seventh straight game he has finished with at least six rebounds and his third double-double in the last seven games. Doral Moore finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, moving the Hustle to 14-5 when he scores in double figures and 5-0 when he records a double-double. Dusty Hannahs reached double figures in the first quarter for the second straight game, ultimately finishing with 17 points.
Kendrick Nunn led the Warriors in scoring off the bench with 19 points. Darius Morris added 17 points and six rebounds. Michael Gbinije tallied 16 points and knocked down 4-of-5 three-point attempts. Will Cherry and former Memphis Grizzlies center Deyonta Davis scored 14 points apiece.
Memphis returns to Landers Center on Monday, March 11 at 7 p.m. to take on Midwest Division rival Sioux Falls Skyforce.