With seven games remaining in the final two weeks of the regular season, the Austin Toros (19-24) needed this road win over the Rio Grande Valley Vipers (30-14).
On the bubble for the playoffs, the Toros had recently started to make a last-minute surge for playoffs. The Vipers victory will make it that much harder for the team to pass the Texas Legends and the Fort Wayne Mad Ants for the eighth seed.
Kyle Weaver, who led the Toros with 24 points, gave the team a 25-23 lead at the end of the first quarter with a 3-point jumper. With nine lead changes in the second quarter alone, both teams traded buckets and kept the game within four points. At the half the game was tied at 49.
In the third quarter the Vipers began to pull away, outscoring the Toros 37-21, as the Toros couldn’t contain the Vipers from beyond the arc. Jerel McNeal’s long shot, the Vipers sixth of the quarter, stretched the home team’s lead heading in to the fourth, 86-70. McNeal scored 12 of his 18 points in the third quarter.
Their lead continued in the fourth as the Toros defense ran out of gas. Mouhammad Faye’s pair of freebies with 10:26 remaining in the game stretched the Vipers lead to 21, the largest of the night. Seconds later Leo Lyons jump started a Toros 11-2 run. It was not enough as the Vipers regrouped and continued to score in the paint. The Vipers win still gave the Toros the advantage on the season series, 5-4.
The Toros had five players score in double figures. The bench combined for 60 of the Toros 103 points. With the loss, Austin still remains out of the final spot for the D-League playoffs.
The team heads to Tulsa on Tuesday before returning home for a three-game home stand.