The Rio Grande Valley Vipers (26-20) clinched a playoff berth with a 139-125 win over the Bakersfield Jam (21-25) tonight at State Farm Arena.
Will Cummings led the Vipers with 27 points. Houston Rockets assignee Montrezl Harrell scored a double-double with 25 points and 12 rebounds. Jaron Johnson recorded 23 points, followed by Jarvis Threatt with 20 points. Raphiael Putney added a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Karl Cochran tallied 11 points. The Vipers also shot 55.7 percent from field, and are now 13-0 when shooting above .500.
Six players reached double figures for Bakersfield. Terrico White led with 38 points. Xavier Silas scored 22 points, followed by Askia Booker with 20 points. Cory Jefferson scored 19 points. Kyle Casey tallied 13 points, and Derek Cooke, Jr. scored 11 points.
RGV took early control of the game and did not trail throughout four quarters. The Vipers outscored Bakersfield 42-25 in the first quarter. Threatt scored 15 of his 20 total points to lead the Vipers in the quarter.
The Vipers held a 20-point lead midway through the second quarter. Johnson made a layup with 3:47 in the half to put RGV ahead 69-51. White made a shot at the free throw line and Booker followed with a layup to send the Jam on a 10-4 run to close out the first half. At halftime, the Vipers led 73-63. The Vipers scored 73 points in the first half in consecutive games. The Vipers also scored 73 first half points in the team’s 137-111 win over Maine on March 23.
Jefferson made a free throw with 4:27 on the clock in the third quarter to cut the Jam’s deficit to 90-86. However, the Vipers build up their lead to 105-94 by the end of the third period.
Bakersfield made one last push for the lead in the fourth quarter. Silas made two shots at the free throw line close in 109-103. However, Cochran responded with a three-pointer to keep the Vipers in control. RGV won 139-125.
The Vipers are back in action Saturday night when they host the Jam for the second game of this back-to-back series. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. (CST) at State Farm Arena. A tailgate party, presented by L&F Distributors and Pepper’s at Uptown, will take place at 5 p.m. in the arena’s east parking lot.