One contest after Memphis Hustle guard Dusty Hannahs lit up the scoreboard for a career-high 35 points in a 152-136 victory against South Bay (Lakers), teammate Yuta Watanabe apparently believed he could do that, too.
Watanabe scored 23 points in the first quarter alone and finished with his own career-high scoring output, finishing with 40 points of the Hustle’s total in a 138-121 win against the Delaware Blue Coats (Sixers).
“They left me wide open a few times from three and I got hot and kept shooting,” Watanabe said. “I’m proud of myself for that but also my teammates. The credit goes to my teammates, too. The hard work paid off, I guess.”
“Yuta is one of the most unselfish players on the roster,” added Hustle coach Jason March. “They had a seven-footer on him and I was glad to see Yuta get aggressive. It was a very big night for him.”
It was the Hustle’s third straight victory and pushed the Midwest Division leaders to 20-6 for the year.
The 17-point victory was the Hustle’s 17th straight win by double digits and the team’s third straight win by at least 16 points, but it didn’t come easy against the Sixers’ affiliate.
Memphis trailed 107-98 after three quarters, but held the Blue Coats to 14 points while netting 40 points on offense to pull away for the win.
“In the fourth quarter we found a group that wanted to complete at a very high level defensively,” said March. “That group did a great job of being very physical, getting after it and getting some turnovers.”
Watanabe’s 23 points in the first quarter was a franchise record and a halftime total of 29 was the most in one half for any Memphis player this season.
Jarrod Uthoff had the team’s only double-double for the night with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Josh Jackson finished with 19 points and Marquis Teague came off the bench to contribute 16 points to the effort.
The Hustle return to action on Friday, Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. against Raptors 905 (Raptors) at Southaven’s Landers Center for the second installment of Hustle & Hounds.
MUSTANGS SWEEP IN SOCCER: Center Hill swept a soccer doubleheader on Wednesday, shutting out Horn Lake in both matches. The Mustang boys used a pair of goals each from Ashton Taylor and Hart Smith for a 7-0 win over the Eagles, following the girls’ 6-0 victory. The games were moved to Wednesday after being originally scheduled for Thursday. They were moved to avoid expected rainfall Thursday.
Lake Cormorant edged Southaven 3-2 in another boys’ soccer match, following Southaven’s 3-0 girls victory over the Lady Gators.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune.