Skyforce Defense Shines in Second Straight Win
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Tone was set during the opening stages. A physical defensive battle began to form. The first made shot occurred on a putback two minutes after tipoff. It was the only time Reno would lead. A barrage of Bighorn turnovers and subpar shooting due to a stifling Sioux Falls defense sent the Skyforce to their second straight win 103-73 on Saturday night at the Sanford Pentagon.
Coach Pat Delany has stressed the defensive mindset through training camp and his players are quick to oblige. “You’ve got to have a defensive mentality on this team,” says DeAndre Liggins who is one of the top prospects in the NBA Development League. “I’m a defensive player and I know defense is the main reason we’re going to win games.”
Glaring numbers bear out Liggins’ claim. Reno shot only 66 times making 20 going deep in the shot clock on many possessions and committed 26 turnovers. The Sioux Falls ledger shows 81 shots taken converting 36 with 18 turnovers and both teams heading to the charity stripe a similar number of times. Liggins says the team can get a lot better. “We’re not used to each other. The season’s just started.”
Individually, Liggins put together a strong night with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists without turning the ball over. The Skyforce bench made a statement outscoring the starters 53-50 led by Chris Ayer with 15 points and Jamine Peterson’s 14. Reno’s NBA assignee Ray McCallum led the Bighorns for the second straight night with 16 points, but was 4-15 from the floor. The season series is complete for the two teams with Reno continuing their four game season opening road swing with a date at Santa Cruz Tuesday night. Sioux Falls will hunker down at home and wait for Iowa to arrive on Friday.