66ers Lose Critical Game To Vipers

© Tulsa's Robert Vaden scores 17 points on 6-10 shooting, including 4-5 from 3-point range in Friday evening's loss.

HIDALGO, Texas -- The Rio Grande Valley Vipers broke an eight-game losing skid to top the Tulsa 66ers 94-93 at State Farm Arena.

The Vipers saw two players record a double-double. Greg Smith tallied 25 points, 11 rebounds, and Malcolm Thomas notched 22 points, 14 rebounds. Tyren Johnson contributed 16 points and Will Conroy added 12 points. Rio Grande Valley shot 48.1 percent from the field.

Jerome Dyson led the Tulsa 66ers with 28 points. Two 66ers recorded double-doubles. Marcus Lewis notched 12 points, 12 rebounds, and Ryan Reid added 10 points, 10 rebounds. The 66ers shot 40.7 percent from the field.

Smith started the game with a jump shot to put the Vipers on the board. Tulsa's Robert Vaden responded with a 26' 3-pointer, but Lee Humphrey responded for the Vipers with a shot from behind the arc to put Rio Grande Valley up 5-3.

Vaden tied the game at 8 points with another 3-point shot, but Johnson responded with a dunk that put the Vipers ahead 10-8. The Vipers led by 10 points with 2:32 left in the first quarter when Thomas sunk a reverse layup that was assisted by Conroy.

Heading into the second quarter, the Vipers led the 66ers 35-26. Tulsa's Dwight Buycks, cut the 66ers deficit to 35-32 at the 11:32 mark. However, two consecutive baskets from Smith helped the Vipers rebuild their lead to 39-32.

A laup from Jermaine Taylor put the Vipers up 13 points, 50-37 with 5:43 remaining in the half. The 66ers fought back throughout the quarter and a layup by Larry Owens closed Tulsa's deficit to 57-55 heading into halftime.

Rio Grande Valley fought to rebuild their lead throughout the third quarter. With 7:01 on the clock, Johnson sunk an alley oop that was assisted by Conroy to give the Vipers the 66-57 advantage. A tip shot by Reid sent the 66ers on a run that closed their deficit to 68-67 with 3:00 left in the quarter. Thomas sunk another tip shot to help the Vipers stay in the lead 72-69.

Vance Cooksey sunk a jump shot with 10:04 remaining in the game to put Rio Grande Valley ahead 76-69. The 66ers refused to back down and a jump shot from Valden gave Tulsa the 77-76 lead. Tulsa hung on to their advantage until a dunk by Smith put the Vipers back on top 84-83.

The score remained close throughout the remainder of the fourth quarter. Two free throws from Dyson helped Tulsa reclaim the 93-92 lead with 0:22.8 left in the game. Conroy responded with a layup that secured the Vipers' 94-93 win.

The Vipers will hit the hardwood again Saturday, March 31 at 7 p.m. when they host the 66ers in the second game of a two-game series at State Farm Arena.