HIDALGO, Texas – In only their second road game of the season, the Los Angeles D-Fenders defeated the Rio Grande Valley Vipers 132-120 Saturday at the State Farm Arena, avenging their only loss of the season while moving to 5-1 overall.
The trio of Vander Blue, Josh Magette and Roscoe Smith – the three longest-tenured D-Fenders on this year’s squad – combined for 66 points. Smith led the team with a season-high 24 points off the bench, while Magette’s 21 points were also good for a season-best in his third double-double of the season. Blue also finished with 21 points, having scored at least 20 in every game this season. Justin Harper (15), Speedy Smith (15), Ivica Zubac (14) and David Nwaba (12) finished in double figures.
As a whole, the D-Fenders offense was consistently efficient in the contest, going 49-of-83 (.590) from the field while connecting on 12-of-28 (.429) shots from long range.
Rio Grande Valley (4-2) led after the first quarter, 33-28, after forcing five LA turnovers in the opening 12 minutes of play. But the D-Fenders offense responded in the second quarter, connecting on 16-of-25 (.640) shots that came off 12 assists before Los Angeles took a 69-68 lead at the half. The D-Fenders continued that efficiency in the final two quarters, connecting on 59.5 percent of their shots while the Vipers shot 39.5 percent in the comeback effort. In a game that included seven lead changes, Los Angeles took the lead for the final time with less than two minutes to go in the third quarter, eventually going up by as much as 16 points in the fourth quarter.
Guard Isaiah Taylor led the Vipers with 35 points, and he was followed by 24 points from forward JP Tokoto.
Los Angeles is back in action at 4 p.m. on Sunday versus the Vipers in what will be the second back-to-back series of the year for the D-Fenders.