66ers Fall in Defensive Showdown

Box Score

TULSA, Okla., December 19, 2013 – The Tulsa 66ers came up short against the Reno Bighorns, 88-86, on Thursday night despite a late comeback in the fourth quarter.

Ben Uzoh led all scorers with a season-best 23 points alongside three rebounds, four assists and three steals. Mario Little added 22 points and Rodney Bartholomew and Grant Jerrett scored 13 and 11, respectively.

Ron Anderson, who was acquired by the 66ers earlier on Thursday, posted eight points and a game-high 11 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end. Anderson, who played for Tulsa in 2012-13, rejoined Tulsa prior to tonight’s game after spending the past three months playing overseas.

“Both teams played hard tonight with strong and good defenses,” said 66ers Head Coach Darko Rajakovic. “I’m proud of my guys for the effort they gave tonight. I believe the pieces will fall in the right place, we just need to keep working hard.”

The 66ers (1-10) trailed the Bighorns 80-74 with 3:41 remaining in the fourth quarter before going on a 9-1 run to take an 83-81 lead before Reno tied it up at the 1:22 mark. During Tulsa’s stretch, the 66ers forced a pair of turnovers and allowed zero Bighorn rebounds.

Reno (4-6) broke the tie on a made three-pointer from K.C. Rivers with 40 seconds to play and followed it with a defensive stop. The 66ers fouled Brandon Heath on Reno’s next possession, leading to a pair of missed foul shots with 20 seconds remaining. The Bighorns defense stopped Tulsa again, leading to a fastbreak dunk from Mo Charlo to put Reno up 88-83 with 3.6 seconds on the clock. Little sunk a deep three as the clock expired to end the game with a two-point margin of defeat.

The 66ers forced 23 Bighorn turnovers while dishing out 14 assists. Both teams secured 36 rebounds, including 14 offensive boards by Tulsa.

Coming into Thursday night, Tulsa’s opponents averaged 32.4 free throw attempts a game – a factor Rajakovic had been stressing to his squad during practice throughout the week. Tonight, the Bighorns shot an opponent season-low 21 attempts from the foul line.

“Every day is a new opportunity for us to get better,” said Rajakovic. “It just takes little things and details, like a few less turnovers. I think we did a good job tonight of not sending the opposing team to the free throw line a lot. That was a problem we’ve had in the past. Our guys are learning the system and learning the league and I’m really proud of their effort.”

Tulsa hits the road for a Sunday afternoon matchup against the Iowa Energy on Dec. 22 before returning home to face the Austin Toros on Friday, Dec. 27.