HIDALGO, Texas, March 14, 2010 – A double-double from Oklahoma City Thunder assignee Byron Mullens of 23 points and 10 rebounds, and team-highs of 34 points and nine assists for Larry Owens was not enough, as the Tulsa 66ers fell to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers 106-101 Sunday at the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, Texas.
A 5-0 run early gave the Vipers a 7-2 lead following a Mike Harris lay up only two minutes into the game. Tulsa outscored the Vipers 13-6 over the next three minutes of action, as Mullens hit two free throws with 6:18 left in the first quarter to tie the game at 15. The Vipers shot 57.1 percent (12-21) from the field, as they took a 28-27 lead into the break. Owens scored 10 points in the quarter, as the 66ers shot 8-for-20 and outrebounded the Vipers 12-9 in the period.
Both teams matched each others buckets throughout the second quarter, as there were three lead changes and six ties, while neither team led by more than four points in the period. Mullens connected on 11 points in the quarter, as the 66ers shot 8-for-14 from the field and 10-for-10 from the free throw line. Harris had eight points and six boards in the second quarter, as the Vipers made 7-of-17 field goals and trailed 54-53 at the half.
The 66ers built an eight-point lead at 63-55 to start the third quarter, as Mustafa Shakur hit a lay up on a fast break, capping a 9-2 run with 8:46 left in the period. The Vipers came back with a 5-0 run to get to within 63-60 after a Harris tip in with 7:24 remaining. DeVon Hardin book-ended a 9-0 run with a lay up and dunk that gave Tulsa a 73-62 advantage with 4:34 left. The 66ers outscored the Vipers 26-17 in the third quarter and took an 80-70 lead into the final quarter. Owens had nine points in the period, as the 66ers shot 9-of-18, while holding the Vipers to 7-of-20 from the field.
With the 66ers ahead by nine with 10:26 left in the game, Harris scored seven points during a 14-0 run by the Vipers, giving them an 89-84 lead following a Kenny Hasbrouck three-pointer with 6:01 remaining. The 66ers climbed to within 96-95 with 1:47 remaining after an Owens jumper, and to within 103-101 with 14.3 seconds left after an Owens three-pointer, but the Vipers shot 66.7 percent (12-18) and 10-of-12 from the free throw line to put the game out of reach. Harris scored 16 fourth quarter points, as the Vipers outscored the 66ers 36-21 in the period. Shakur scored eight points in the period, as they hit their only free throw attempt, and made 9-of-24 field goals.
Led by Mullens and Owens, the 66ers (23-18) finished with three players scoring more than 20 points in the game. Shakur finished with 24 points, five rebounds and four steals.
The Vipers (30-12) finished with five players in double-figures, led by Harris’ double-double of 36 points and 18 rebounds. Will Conroy also finished with a double-double of 15 points and 15 assists, while Hasbrouck added 13 points. Julian Sensley had 12 points and Jonathan Wallace contributed 11 points off the bench.
The 66ers return to action on the road on March 19 and 20 for a back-to-back set with the Idaho Stampede. Both games are set to tip-off at 8 p.m. .