After dropping four straight leading up to the Showcase in Las Vegas, the Sioux Falls Skyforce twice had the winning hand defeating Maine in game two 114-94 on Friday night at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

The Red Claws (5-13) established a pace offensively and defensively that suited them through much of the first half, building a 15-point lead in the second quarter. Sioux Falls (13-7) closed the half strong by cutting the deficit to five by intermission.

Throughout the second half the Skyforce gradually established the tone and incrementally extended the lead. Then came the defining moment in the fourth quarter.

Leading by eight points with eight minutes remaining and the shot clock winding down, Bubu Palo let loose with a three-point shot from the right wing that didn’t make it to the rim. While the ball was in flight, Charles Cooke III raced from the left corner to snare the rebound and spied teammate Raphiael Putney in the right corner who received Cooke’s pass and unleashed his own attempt from behind the arc that found the mark. That sequence launched a 22-7 run that sealed the outcome.

On the Skyforce stat sheet, Jarnell Stokes was the point leader for both games in Vegas scoring 24 with 9 rebounds in the second outing and Putney supplied 19 points and 10 rebounds as Sioux Falls had seven score ten or more.

The Red Claws got 24 points from Justin Bibbs, but 22 of them came in the first half. Vitto Brown (15 points) and P.J. Dozier (13 points) were the only other players in double figures for Maine.

A moratorium on team activity will allow players to enjoy the Christmas holiday before the schedule resumes. Sioux Falls will have an odyssey to Iowa on Sunday, December 30 while Maine plays Thursday December 27 at Greensboro.

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