DES MOINES, IA. – The Tulsa 66ers pulled off the unexpected Tuesday night, knocking off the first-seeded Iowa Energy 127-122 before 3,189 rowdy fans at the Wells Fargo Arena to reach the NBA D-League Finals.
Deron Washington led seven double-digit scorers for Tulsa with 21 points while sinking 15 of 17 free throws.
The first quarter was close as the two teams traded baskets and leads. Iowa opened their largest lead of the quarter on a pair of Mark Tyndale free throws to make it 21-16 with just over three minutes remaining. Tulsa crawled back, ultimately taking a 27-23 lead into the break after a three-pointer from JaJuan Smith.
Latavious Williams sparked the 66ers in the second with a 12-point effort that helped Tulsa extend their lead. Iowa pulled back to within three points at the 7:59 mark of the second, before Tulsa went on a 24-11 run to give them a 61-45 half time lead. The 66ers were 10 of 18 from the field and a perfect 12 of 12 from the charity stripe as they outscored the Energy 34-22 in the second quarter.
Iowa’s leading scorer, Curtis Stinson, scored 12 of his game-high 32 points in the third quarter as his team pulled back to within 10 points at the break. Free throws undoubtedly helped the 66ers hold onto the lead, as they continued to be near perfect, connecting on 13 of 14 attempts. Washington and Larry Owens has six points each as Tulsa entered the final quarter with an 89-79 lead.
The Energy opened the fourth quarter with a 16-8 run that pulled them to within four points near the six minute mark of the period. Stinson was ejected from the game late in the fourth quarter, drawing two technical fouls after an argument with the officials.
With 2:10 remaining, Washington drove towards the basket drawing a blocking foul on Iowa’s Connor Atchley. Stinson, along with the fans in attendance, voiced their displeasure at the call and after Washington sank both free throws Stinson reportedly charged towards an official after being called for his first technical. The action resulted in a second technical foul and ultimately his ejection from the game.
Oral Roberts University product Moses Ehambe sank seven of eight free throws within the final 30 seconds to keep the game ever-so-slightly out of the reach of the Energy. Iowa pulled within two points twice in the final 10 seconds, but key free throws by Ehambe and Smith sealed the win for Tulsa.
The 66ers now await the winner of the semi-final series between the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and Austin Toros. Game three in that series will tip off tonight at 7:30 P.M. at State Farm Arena in McAllen, Texas. The schedule for the final series will be set after the 66ers opponent has been determined.