66ers win, move on in playoffs

 SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The Tulsa 66ers added another first to their resume Sunday night, as they defeated the Sioux Falls Skyforce 111-101 advancing them into the NBA D-League semi-finals.alt

Kyle Weaver paced the 66ers with a team-high 27 points along with eight rebounds, seven assists and five steals. The first quarter saw eight lead changes and three ties before Tulsa charged back from a five-point deficit with a 13-5 run and finished the quarter with a 29-26 lead. Weaver scored 15 points in the period as Head Coach Nate Tibbetts missed the first nine minutes while seeking treatment for flu-like symptoms at a local hospital.

The 13-5 run came after Tibbetts’ return to the Sioux Falls Arena during a timeout. Tulsa was 10 for 24 from the field during the opening quarter, while Sioux Falls was 8 for 24. 

The 66ers remained hot entering the second quarter, riding a 19-2 run while the Skyforce missed their first 13 attempts from the field. The lead ballooned to 48-28 after a Mustafa Shakur three-pointer with 4:56 left in the quarter. Sioux Falls would cut the lead to 11 before the 66ers added a 7-0 run before heading into the locker room with a 58-43 half time lead.

Sioux Falls’ Kirk Penney attempted to start a third quarter rally for the home team, scoring 11 points as the Skyforce shot 50 percent from the field and outscored the 66ers 27-23. Tulsa was a little more selective on their shots in the third, hitting 8 of 15 from the field. Shakur scored 7 points as the 66ers entered the final quarter with an 81-70 lead.

Shakur remained in charge during the fourth quarter, scoring nine points including a breakaway dunk with less than a minute remaining. The Skyforce outscored the 66ers 31-30, but they could not overcome the trio of Oklahoma City Thunder assignees on the 66ers roster. Weaver’s third straight double-digit effort was accompanied by Shakur’s 23 points and five rebounds while Byron Mullens added 11 points and seven boards.

In all, five 66ers reached double digit scoring. Larry Owens had a respectable 21 points and five rebounds while Latavious Williams notched a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds off of the bench. The loss marked the first home loss for the Skyforce since February 6.

The win sets up a  best-of-three semi-final series with the first seeded Iowa Energy. The 66ers and Energy split their season series 2-2, with all four games having taken place in Tulsa. Iowa moved into the semi-finals by defeating the Utah Flash two games to one.

Game one of the series will take place on Friday, April 16 at the Tulsa Convention Center with tip off slated for 7 p.m. Game two and game three (if necessary) will take place in Des Moines on Sunday, April 18 and Tuesday, April 20.