66ers Earn Playoff With Help

Deron Washington finished with a team-high 21 points and nine rebounds, but the Tulsa 66ers (27-22) fell to the Iowa Energy (37-13) 105-93 Saturday night at the Tulsa Convention Center.  Despite the outcome, a loss by Maine earlier in the evening helped the 66ers earn a postseason berth for the first time in franchise history in the upcoming 2010 NBA D-League Playoffs.  Oklahoma City Thunder assignees Byron Mullens and Mustafa Shakur combined for 22 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in the game.

The 66ers got up early in the contest 4-0 after a Larry Owens lay up, but the Energy bounced back with a 17-6 run to move ahead 17-10 following a Connor Atchley lay up with 8:12 left in the first quarter. Tulsa battled back to within 23-21 with 3:58 on the clock after two Latavious Williams buckets, but an 8-3 run to end the quarter by the Energy gave them a 31-24 advantage at the break. Jeff Trepagnier scored 10 first quarter points, as the Energy connected on 12-of-20 field goals. Washington converted nine points for the 66ers, who made 8-of-23 attempts.

Both teams struggled from the field during the second quarter, as Iowa made 5-of-14 field goals and Tulsa hit 6-of-21. The 66ers were able to battle to within 41-35 with 6:41 left in the first half following a Moses Ehambe three-pointer, but the Energy came back with a 12-4 run that pushed their lead to 53-37 with 3:23 remaining. Iowa utilized nine turnovers by Tulsa in the quarter, as well as a big advantage at the free throw line during the period, making 17-of-21 compared to 6-of-7 for Tulsa, to take a 58-43 lead into halftime.

After halftime, the 66ers looked to get back into the contest, going on a 13-6 run to start the period and within 64-56 following a thunderous dunk by Washington with 6:33 remaining. Tulsa outscored Iowa 27-18 in the quarter, but went into the final period down 76-70. The 66ers shot 55 percent (11-20) in the quarter compared to 23.8 percent (5-21) for the Energy.

Tulsa scored the first two baskets in the fourth quarter to get within two at 76-74 with 10:49 left in the game. Then with Iowa ahead 83-78 with 7:55 left, Mark Tyndale scored eight of the Energy’s next nine points, as they went on an 18-7 run to the put the game out of reach. Tyndale scored 16 fourth quarter points, as the Energy shot 9-for-19 from the field and 10-of-13 from the free throw line. Owens scored 8 points in the period, as Tulsa made 10-of-29 field goals but did not attempt a free throw.

Led by Washington, the 66ers finished with six players in double figures scoring. Owens finished with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Williams added 13 points and eight boards. Ehambe came off the bench to score 10 points, while Mullens added his eight double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Shakur contributed 12 points and eight assists for Tulsa.

The Energy were led by Tyndale, who shot 15-of-18 from the free throw line en route to his game-high 28 points. Curtis Stinson had a double-double with 22 points, 11 assts and nine boards, while Trepagnier and Pat Carroll finished with 15 points apiece.

Tulsa travels to play at Reno tomorrow at 6 p.m. CST. The 66ers begin the first round of the playoffs, a best-of-three series, with game one at home next week.  Both Reno and Tulsa earned spots into the 2009-10 NBA Development League Playoffs, so all eight teams have clinched.

•    Both Reno (27-22) and Tulsa (27-22) hold the tie breakers against Utah, who finished 28-22 on the season (head-to-head)
•    Whomever wins Sunday’s match up will be the 6 seed, with a loss comes the 8 seed

The top three seeds in the postseason will select whom they want to face in the first round of the playoffs, the two teams left then will face each other. Each round is a best-of-three series with the lower seed hosting game one.

Seeding is as follows (pending results from tonight’s game):

1.    Iowa
2.    Rio Grande Valley
3.    Austin
4.    Sioux Falls
5.    Dakota
6.    Tulsa/Reno
7.    Utah
8.    Reno/Tulsa

Once the selections are made, the 66ers will be able to announce who they will be playing in round one, as well as dates for Game 1 at home, Game 2 on the road, and Game 3 on the road (if necessary). Tulsa will also be announcing when and where tickets to the general public will go on-sale. The announcement will most likely be made on Monday.

Photos by: Kevin Pyle