Fayetteville 106, Tulsa 102
Patriots Outlast 66ers
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C., March 19 -- With the score tied and under a minute remaining, the Fayetteville Patriots got stingy on defense and pulled out a 106-102 win over the Tulsa 66ers in D-League action in Fayetteville. The win was Fayetteville's seventh home win in a row and eighth overall in its last 10 games. The Patriots improved to 14-26. The 66ers dropped to 17-23.
After Tulsa's Ersan Ilyasova nailed two free throws to tie the game with 1:04 left, point guard Alex Acker seized control of the game. He found center Rick Rickert for a short hook shot, got Erik Daniels to the line where he made one of two, and then drew a foul and hit two free throws with 14 seconds left to close out the game. The 66ers' John Lucas III led all scorers with 26, but Acker denied him a decent look at the basket in the last three minutes.
"We have a group of guys here now that know how to win, how to close out a game," Daniels said of the Patriots' recent run of success. "I love playing with these guys. Everybody really plays as a team. We don't have to force things now."
Fayetteville led most of the game, although the lead rarely got to double digits. And each time it did, Tulsa battled back to keep it close. But despite pulling even four times in the final eight minutes, the 66ers were never able to take the lead in that span. Fayetteville dominated statistically by outrebounding Tulsa 58-28 and scoring 31 second-chance points to Tulsa's two -- even though the game stayed close.
"I wish I could say more, but that rebounding stat is it," said 66ers assistant coach Roy Rogers. "A bunch of those rebounds were on the offensive end and they kept getting second looks. It's amazing we stayed in it as long as we did."
Rogers is filling for Tulsa head coach Joey Meyer whose father, legendary DePaul University coach Ray Meyer died Friday. Ray Meyer's funeral is Tuesday.
Daniels paced the Patriots with 24 points and eight rebounds. Acker finished with 18 points and six assists, while his Detroit Pistons teammate Amir Johnson added 22 with 10 boards.
"We're growing as a team and that means having poise in pressure situations," said Fayetteville head coach Mike Brown. "When things get tight at the end of a game like that, you have to get a shot every time down the floor, make it a good shot, and knock in your free throws. We did that."
Desmon Farmer scored 21 for the 66ers. Ilyasova added 17.
A pair of Patriots, Mateen Cleaves and Kevin Lyde, missed the game with nagging injuries. Both are expected to return when the two teams play the final game of the series in Fayetteville on Tuesday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.