Vipers Take Early Lead, Down Bighorns To Split Pair In Reno

The defending NBA Development League champion Rio Grande Valley Vipers split the weekend series with the Reno Bighorns after a 126-122 victory on Saturday at the Reno Events Center.

After the Vipers (5-4) took a 9-8 lead when Antonio Anderson hit a free throw, the Bighorns (7-2) went on a 7-0 over the power of a lay-up and a three-pointer by D.J. Strawberry to take a 15-9 lead at the 8:10 mark.

The Bighorns led 18-12 with 5:34 remaining in the first quarter, but while the Vipers hit 14-of-19 shots, the Bighorns hit 6-of-18 as the Vipers outscored the Bighorns 40-22 until the 6:56 mark of the second quarter to take a 52-40 lead.

The Bighorns got within 114-111 late in the fourth quarter, but Jerel McNeal hit 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.

McNeal finished with a game-high, career-high and Vipers season-high 40 points with five rebounds, two assists and four steals. McNeal hit 9-of-15 shots, including 5-of-7 from behind the arc. He also 17-of-18 free throw attempts.

Houston Rockets-assignee Patrick Patterson recorded his fourth-straight double-double and fifth overall with 23 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots. Mustafa Shakur scored 20 points with seven rebounds, eight assists and three steals.

Patrick Ewing Jr. led the Bighorns with 24 points, eight rebounds and five blocks, Aaron Miles had 23 points and 10 assists while Sacramento Kings-assignee Hassan Whiteside finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and eight blocks.

The Vipers return to action on Friday at 7:00 p.m. against the Bakersfield Jam in Hidalgo.