EL SEGUNDO – The D-Fenders may have led by as much as 20 points in the second half, but they still needed some late-game heroics to get the win.
Thanks to a clutch three-pointer from Travis Wear with just seconds remaining, the D-Fenders knocked off the visiting Iowa Energy on Thursday at the Toyota Sports Center, 119-118.
Los Angeles (16-5) was led by 24 points from Vander Blue, while David Nwaba tallied 19 points and eight rebounds. Wear, Josh Magette and Troy DeVries each scored 15 points, and Wear added 11 rebounds for his third double-double of the year. Lakers assignee Ivica Zubac ended the night with nine points and nine boards.
Meanwhile, Iowa (2-18) was paced by Wayne Selden and his 28-point performance off the bench. Terry Whisnant (19 points) and JaKarr Sampson (15 points, nine rebounds) joined Memphis assignees Troy Williams (14 points) and Wade Baldwin IV (11 points, eight assists) as the team’s other double-digit scorers.
The D-Fenders took a slight 32-29 advantage in the first quarter before erupting to outscore the Energy, 38-27, in the second frame. The strong showing was fueled by LA’s efficient shooting from long range, as the D-Fenders connected on 12-of-17 attempts from deep to force a 70-56 halftime lead.
The D-Fenders built up a 20-point advantage in the early stages of the third quarter, but little else went the home team’s way for the remainder of the half. Los Angeles converted on just six shots in the third frame, shooting 30 percent in the quarter before totaling a 37.2 percentage in the entire second half. A 20-point lead in the third soon became an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit as the Energy put together a 26-8 run to gain a 111-100 lead with 4:26 remaining.
Los Angeles responded with a spurt of its own, and it was led by Magette who scored seven points in the final four minutes of play. That ignited the D-Fenders to a run and a 116 tie with 31.7 seconds remaining, but Washpun hit a free throw jumper with 6.5 seconds on the clock to give Iowa a two-point lead. On the very next play, Magette rushed the length of the floor, drew the defense into the paint and connected with Wear for a desperation three-pointer with just 1.2 seconds to play. It would prove to be the game-winner.
The D-Fenders will once again defend home court in their next matchup against the Grand Rapids Drive, currently set for 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 7, at the Toyota Sports Center.