Austin Toros win home opener against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers

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The Austin Toros opened their season in their new home at Cedar Park Center with a noon matinee game against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. The last time these two teams met it was in the NBA D-League semi-finals and the Vipers took home the crown. This afternoon the Toros were hoping things would be different.

The two teams didn’t exactly get off to a fast start, and battled back and forth for most of the first. Vipers ended the quarter ahead by a score of 21-17. Vipers Mustafa Shakur, a former second-round draft pick for the D-League’s Tulsa 66ers, scored 8 points for the Vipers to lead scoring for the visitors. Lance Thomas was the leader for the Toros, but only had 6 points for the home team.

The second quarter was much of the same but ended with the Toros over the Vipers with a score of 47-42. The home team took over the lead in the second and never gave it back. The Toros got a big boost in the second off the bench from Marcus Hubbard. Hubbard led the Toros scoring with 13 points, including one three-point shot. Shakur was again the points leader for the points leader for the Vipers with 6 to add to his tally.

During the third, the momentum really shifted after a dunk by Thomas Gardner and a breakaway layup by Lance Thomas. This Toros scoring streak led to the biggest lead of the quarter (13) and the team never looked back. Marcus added five points and Thomas Gardner had 9 for the Toros. Part of the key to the Toros success in the third was shutting down Vipers top scorer, Mustafa Shakur. Shakur was held to one point in the third.

The scoreboard at the beginning of the fourth had the Toros on top of the Vipers 73-68. The fourth quarter was a whole lot of Lewis Clinch for the Austin Toros. Clinch had 17 points during the final quarter and 22 for the game. Clinch was named the Player of the Game for his efforts. The Toros dominated the fourth, leading the Vipers by 18 at one point.

The Toros fought for rebounds and played tight defense to keep the Vipers from striking in the final period of the game. The Vipers previous top scorers, Mustafa Shakur and Patrick Sullivan were held scoreless in the fourth. Vipers guard Jerel McNeal scored ten, but it was not enough to stop the Toros and the home team won the game with a final score of 107-91.

The Austin Toros will be back in action tomorrow evening at 5 pm for a rematch with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

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