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T-Birds Edge Vipers

Albuquerque 92, Rio Grande Valley 91

In their first home game in 29 days the Rio Grande Valley Vipers did not notice the friendly confines of Dodge Arena as they lost their fifth consecutive game in heartbreaking fashion 92-91 to their Southwest Division rival Albuquerque Thunderbirds Sunday night at Dodge Arena. New Albuquerque forward Kevin Pittsnogle tipped in his own miss at the buzzer to seal the one point victory for the Thunderbirds. The Vipers led 91-90 with 2.8 seconds remaining before the final possession for the Thunderbirds.

Rio Grande Valley had a three-point lead with 18.9 seconds remaining, until Kevin Pittsnogle hit a game tying three with 10.4 remaining to tie the game at 90. Pittsnogle nearly went from hero to goat as he committed a blocking foul on Cleveland Cavaliers assignee Shannon Brown with 2.8 remaining that could have seemingly won the game for the Vipers. Brown would hit only one of his two free throw attempts giving the Thunderbirds the ball with a chance to win it down 91-90. Pittsnoggle would prove the hero with his game winning shot, putting the Thunderbirds at .500 for the first time since Dec 28th. Phoenix assignee Alondo Tucker tallied 39 points in the Thunderbird victory.

Rio Grande Valley was led by Brown’s 23 points as he played nearly the entire game for Rio Grande Valley sitting for only two minutes and twelve seconds of game time. Trent Strickland added 17 for the Vipers and Quin Humphrey finished a rebound shy of a double-double with 15 points and nine boards.

Rio Grande Valley falls to below .500 for the first time this season and have lost their last six games within the Southwest Division. The Vipers will travel to Boise, ID on Monday morning, as they will play two games at Qwest Arena as part of the annual D-League showcase. The Vipers will play the host Idaho Stampede on Tuesday night with 8:15 scheduled tip off. Rio Grande Valley will play again at home on Friday versus the Anaheim Arsenal.