The Memphis Hustle fell to the Santa Cruz Warriors Saturday afternoon 126-122 and did it in much the same way it has lost games at home for much of their inaugural season at the Landers Center in Southaven.
The pattern has been: fall behind early, make a colossal comeback, only to fall just short at the end.
Hustle coach Glynn Cyprien looked at his team’s defensive effort as a factor in the team’s latest loss.
“They had 17 threes, that’s what they do, they’re a good shooting team,” said Cyprien. “We didn’t get to the shooters all of the time, we weren’t aggressive on switches and we’ve got to be better at that.”
Hustle guard Marquis Teague broke free from the pack and finished the afternoon with game-high honors, hitting for 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting, including 4-for-5 from the three-point line.
Teague was also perfect in four free throw attempts.
He (Teague) is one of the best, if not the best point guard in this league,” Cyprien said. “He made plays, not just by scoring, but he made plays for others and he did it on the defensive end.”
Teague got help on the score sheet from five teammates who also hit double figures, led by Austin Nichols’ 18 points in 19:44 minutes of action.
The low amount of playing time Cyprien said was not due to Nichols’ performance, but rather the flow of the game.
“I thought Austin was pretty good and even Chance (Comanche) was good in the post,” Cyprien said. “But we had to go small when we got behind to try to speed up the game a little bit to get some shooters in the game, so he didn’t get as many minutes as probably he deserved.”
Nichols and Comanche helped combine for 50 points in the paint against the Warriors Saturday afternoon.
Myke Henry scored 16 for Memphis, Omari Johnson finished with 14, and Jeremy Morgan contributed 12 points. J.J. Frazier added 11 points for the Hustle.
All five Warrior starters also scored in double figures and Avry Holmes came off the bench to add 11 points in the victory. Damion Lee and Chris Boucher led the way with 25 points for Santa Cruz.
Memphis and the Warriors battled to a 25-25 draw after one quarter, but Santa Cruz broke out to a 62-54 lead at halftime.
Santa Cruz continued to pad the lead in the third quarter and led the Hustle 96-82 after three quarters of play, leading by 21 at one point in the second half.
But the Hustle showed their second-half fight once again entering the final quarter with Teague helping spark a run that finished the contest with a 40-point fourth quarter.
However, Santa Cruz scored 30 themselves in the quarter and held off a final attempt to tie or win the game, as Memphis had a chance to tie or take the lead in the final minute of play.
The Warriors improved to 22-22 for the season, while the Hustle dropped to 17-28 with the loss.
Memphis’ biggest lead in the game was five and there were 15 lead changes and 12 ties.
The Hustle return to the Landers Center Wednesday night for their next home game, a 7 p.m. tipoff against the Sioux Falls Skyforce. A chance to even the season series against the South Dakota team awaits, as Memphis is 1-2 against the Miami Heat affiliate this year.
However, the home floor has not been kind to the Hustle this season with a record of 7-14 at the Landers Center against a 10-14 mark on the road.
Five games remain on the schedule, starting with Wednesday’s contest. Three are at home along with road trips to Windy City (Chicago) and the Texas Legends to finish the season March 24.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.