Austin Toros win battle of the Bighorn 97-95

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Lance Thomas goes up for a shot for the Austin Toros

While the big story for the Austin Toros matchup with the Reno Bighorns this morning was the assignment of the San Antonio Spurs’ 2010 first-round draft pick, James Anderson, the real story on the court was Marcus Cousin and Lance Thomas.  Anderson had 12 points in his debut for the Toros, but Cousin and Thomas combined for 39 in the victory over the Bighorns. The two teams battled for a full 48 minutes, and the lead in the game changed 17 times, with neither team ever having more than a seven-point advantage.

During the first quarter, it seemed like the Toros had trouble putting things together offensively, perhaps a result of the recent roster changes. Although the Toros added James Anderson to the lineup, they lost Eric Dawson this week as he returned to his former team in Korea after the D-League Showcase. Despite their challenges, the Toros kept the score close and finished the quarter down by only 3 points.  There were no real offensive standouts from either team during the first. Leo Lyons, Aubrey Coleman and Marcus Cousin each had five points for the Toros.

In the second period, the Toros struggled again, getting down six points early to the visiting Bighorns. However, the home team fought back and Marcus Cousin led the team to within one point before the half with 11 points.

James Anderson came off the bench again for the Toros in the third quarter and put up 10 points as the team surged. The Toros seemed to finally gel offensively and got a spark from Anderson in the third. The defensive also came up big with four turnovers that led to Toros points, but the Bighorns weren’t giving up and fought back to end the period up 2 points.

The battle continued into the final quarter, but the Toros pressed and big efforts by Lance Thomas and Marcus Cousin kept them close.  With just over a minute remaining the game was tied at 93 and Marcus Cousin hit a jumper to give the Toros the lead. The Bighorns responded with a jump shot by Jeremy Lin to tie the game again at 95. On the final possession, Carldell “Squeaky” Johnson dropped a pass down low to Marcus Cousin for a driving shot that put the Toros up 97-95 with only 1.6 seconds remaining in regulation. The Bighorns failed to score on their last attempt, giving the Toros the home victory.

Marcus Cousin ended the game with 22 points and Lance Thomas had 17 for the Toros. Both athletes were named Co-Players of the Game.  While he did not lead in points, James Anderson was an impact player for the Toros, getting 11:35 of playing time and racking up 12 points.  For the Bighorns, Danny Green led the team with 22 points and Donald Sloan added 21 to the visiting team’s tally.

The Austin Toros will face the New Mexico Thunderbirds tomorrow evening and again on Saturday at noon.

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