The Sioux Falls Skyforce (22-11) fell to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (22-10) by a final score of 141-133 on Monday night at the Sanford Pentagon. Rio Grande Valley’s Michael Frazier scored 18 of his game-high 43 points in the final quarter to close the door on Sioux Falls.
The Vipers jumped out to a 22-point first-half lead, but the Skyforce shot 73.7 percent from the field in the second quarter to narrow the deficit to just 13 points heading into halftime. Raphiael Putney (27 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks) kept Sioux Falls within striking distance throughout the game while leading the team in scoring for the second-consecutive contest.
Trailing by 11 points entering the final period, a three-pointer from Miami HEAT two-way player Duncan Robinson (25 points and six rebounds) tied the game for the first time at 118 apiece. The Force would later tie the game two more times at 121, and 127 before ultimately surrendering in the final minutes.
In addition to Frazier’s scoring barrage, Rio Grande Valley was led by Dakarai Tucker (20 points) and Houston Rockets assignee Isaiah Hartenstein (18 points, 15 rebounds and six assists). Though Sioux Falls shot 58.3 percent in the contest, the Vipers capitalized on 22 Skyforce turnovers and 18 offensive rebounds on their way to winning their seventh-consecutive game.
Bubu Palo (24 points and 12 assists) and Briante Weber (12 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds and four steals) each double-doubled in the loss for the Force, while Charles Cooke III (19 points) and Rodney Purvis (17 points) rounded out the bulk of the scoring for the short-handed Sioux Falls lineup.
Marcus Lee (11 rebounds and nine points) tallied a new career-high in rebounds while Palo (790) passed Skyforce Hall of Fame member David Bailey (788) for the most attempted free throws in Sioux Falls franchise history.
Now 8-3 during the month of January, the Skyforce will look to get back into the win column on Wednesday, January 30 at home against the Salt Lake City Stars (15-14), while the Vipers travel east to Erie, PA to take on the BayHawks (15-13).