TULSA, OK. – The Tulsa 66ers came up short, despite a dramatic comeback effort, losing to the Iowa Energy 107-102 in game one of the NBA D-League semi-finals Friday night at the Tulsa Convention Center. A franchise record crowd of 5,288 provided a rowdy playoff atmosphere as former 66er Denham Brown scorched his former team for 28 points, leading all scorers and a trio of 20-plus point scorers for the Energy. Forward Larry Owens and guard Kyle Weaver led the 66ers with 20 and 19 points, respectfully.
Oral Roberts University product Moses Ehambe was money coming off of the bench, as he scored 13 points and was 3-of-6 from behind the arch.
The 66ers struck first when Weaver sank two free-throws 59 seconds into the game. Tulsa jumped out to a 4-0 lead before Iowa responded, taking a 6-4 lead after a pair of baskets from Connor Atchley. The Energy then reeled off a 15 point run before Tulsa would score again.
Iowa’s lead grew to 21-14, before Tulsa mounted a 7-0 run to end the quarter in a 21-21 deadlock. Ehambe dropped in five points coming off of the bench late in the period. Deron Washington pulled in a steal and went the length of the court for a highlight reel layup to tie the game with :41 left.
The Energy worked the perimeter in the first quarter, taking eight shots from behind the arch. However, they only hit one three-pointer, while the 66ers were 2 of 4 from downtown and 8 of 19 from the field. On the night Iowa would finish 5-for-20 on three-point shots, while Tulsa hit 12 of 31 while playing most of the remainder of the game from behind.
\Iowa started to pull away in the second quarter, as they outscored Tulsa by 10 points to take a 54-44 lead into the locker room. The Energy hit 3 of 7 three-point attempts as Brown led the charge with 11 points, 6 by way of the long-ball. Owens matched Brown, providing 11 points for the 66ers.
Oklahoma City Thunder assignee Mustafa Shakur, who was honored prior to tip-off for being named to the All-D-League second team, was held out during the second half for precautionary reasons due to an undisclosed injury.
Darian Townes paced Iowa in the third with ten points as the Energy extended their lead to 12. Washington scored 8 points for Tulsa, including a powerful dunk in the 8 minute mark to keep the home team within 10. The three-pointer woes continued for Iowa, as they came up short on four attempts in the period.
The stage was then set for the final quarter of play with Iowa holding a 77-65 lead over Tulsa. The Energy wasted little time, extending their lead to 17 on a trey by Brown and a pair of free-throws from Pat Carroll. From there, things would get interesting.
The 66ers roared back, chipping away ever so slightly at the Energy’s lead. Tulsa pulled to within three late in the period, before the Energy’s regular season leading scorer, Curtis Stinson, drove the lane for a layup that increased the lead to five. After an Iowa steal and timeout, Tulsa got one of their own by Wink Adams, setting up a play to draw the 66ers within one possession of taking the lead.
On the ensuing possession Weaver drove the lane for an easy layup, cutting the lead once again to three. Iowa extended their lead shortly after on a Jeff Trepangier basket and a pair of Stinson free throws. Tulsa then cut into the 102-95 lead, drawing back within three after a Washington steal that lead to two successful free throw attempts with 27 seconds remaining.
With time running out, Tulsa resorted to fouling in an attempt to regain possession. The plan, however would backfire, with Brown sinking four in the closing seconds to give Iowa a 106-99 lead with 12 seconds left. Stinson went on to sink the back half of a pair of free throws to maintain an insurmountable lead. Weaver sank a three-pointer with 4 seconds left to carry the 66ers over the century mark, but it would prove to be too little, too late.
The series now shifts to Des Moines, Iowa for game two at 4 P.M. on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Arena. Tulsa must win the remaining two games on the road in order to advance to the league finals, while an Iowa win on Sunday will end the season for the 66ers. The two teams did not meet in Des Moines during the 2009-10 regular season.
Photos by: Kevin Pyle
1 2 3 4 – F Iowa 21 33 23 30 107 Tulsa 21 23 21 37 102
Iowa- Brown 28, Stinson 20, Townes 20, Trepagnier 13, Carroll 11, Tyndale 11, Atchley 4 Tulsa- Owens 20, Weaver 19, Washington 15, Ehambe 13, Mullens 11, Williams 10, Adams 7, Smith 3, Shakur 2, Hardin 2