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Late Rally Lifts Toros Past Flash For Ninth Straight Win

Austin 97, Utah 88

OREM, Utah, Jan. 2, 2009 - Malik Hairston scored 23 points, including a bucket that triggered a game-ending 8-0 run, as the Austin Toros captured their ninth consecutive win with a 97-88 victory over the Utah Flash on Friday night at the McKay Events Center.

The Toros (11-3) held an 89-88 lead over the Flash with just over two minutes remaining when Hairston scored to start the game-clinching surge. Utah missed its last five shots.

"We were doing pretty well until three minutes to go," Flash coach Brad Jones said. "At that point, we had some costly turnovers and missed shots, and they turned around and scored on us every time."

Utah held an early eight-point lead before Austin responded with a 10-2 run, and the game was close thereafter. There were 20 lead changes until two free throws by Ezra Williams gave the Toros the lead for good with 3:40 to play.

Williams and Charles Gaines scored 19 points apiece and Marcus Williams and Andre Brown added 14 each for the Toros, who shot 46 percent (37-of-80) and survived 11 missed free throws. Brown had nine rebounds, just missing his fourth consecutive double-double.

Gavin Grant scored a career-high 28 points and Boston Celtics assignee Bill Walker added 15 for the Flash (6-8), who shot 42 percent (33-of-78), including 7-of-20 in the final period.

"Once we started playing more aggressive defensively, and not conceding position, we gave ourselves more of an opportunity to make plays," Toros coach Quin Snyder said. "We denied them getting high-percentage shots and getting into the lane and getting open looks."

The Flash face Anaheim in Tuesday’s nightcap of the D-League Showcase in Orem. The Toros visit Idaho on Saturday.