HIDALGO, TX. – The Tulsa 66ers‘ storybook season came to a heartbreaking end Tuesday night, as the Rio Grande Valley Vipers nailed down the NBA D-League championship on a last second shot. Craig Winder banked in a three-point shot as the buzzer sounded, breaking a 91-91 tie and clinching the D-League championship for the Vipers in front of 6,198 fans at State Farm Arena. With eight seconds remaining, the Vipers inbounded the ball to Antonio Anderson, who dribbled from the top of the key towards the free throw line and dumped a pass to a wide open Winder for the 94-91 win.
Larry Owens led the 66ers, scoring 25 points while shooting 12 of 17 from the field. Three other 66ers also scored in double-digits.
Rio Grande Valley took a 24-22 lead into the first break, as league MVP Mike Harris led the Vipers in scoring with six points. Owens and Deron Washington each paced Tulsa with six points as the two teams traded the lead nine times in a see-saw quarter of play.
The Vipers broke open a 35-27 lead thanks to a 11-5 run to start the second quarter. The 66ers, however, were not done and mounted a 16-6 run that game them a 43-39 lead with just 35 seconds remaining in the half. Harris added another seven points while Tulsa’s Latavious Williams scored eight points to give the 66ers a 43-42 advantage at half-time.
Rio Grande Valley came out to start the third with an 11-4 run, this one giving them a 53-47 lead with just under nine minutes left. Tulsa again battled back with their own run, outscoring Rio Grande Valley 8-0 to regain a 55-53 lead. There would be four more lead changes in the quarter before the 66ers would find themselves ahead 67-64 going into the fourth.
The two teams again exchanged runs and the lead again in the final quarter, with both teams shooting around 50 percent. Tulsa held a four point lead before back-to-back layups by Ernest Scott and Harris tied the game at 91-91 and set up the game-winning shot. Winder was certainly clutch in the final quarter as he led all scorers with 14 points, including the championship-winning shot.
The 66ers finished the 2010 D-League season with a respectable 31-27 record, the best in franchise history.