HIDALGO -- The defending NBA Development League champion Rio Grande Valley Vipers assured themselves of home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs and one of the best four records in the league with a 108-95 victory over the Springfield Armor on Friday at State Farm Arena in front of a sellout crowd of 5,900.
The Vipers (32-17) jumped out to a 17-2 lead as Houston Rockets-assignee Hasheem Thabeet and Matt Janning combined for 10 points and eight rebounds while Mouhammad Faye had four points, four rebounds and three assists in the opening 5:14. The Vipers led by as many as 23 at 32-9 after Patrick Sullivan hit a free throw with 1:40 remaining in the quarter.
Thabeet scored a season-high 18 points while hitting all eight of his shot attempts to go with 10 rebounds (four offensive) and two blocks for his second double-double. Janning hit four three-pointers while scoring 16 points with eight rebounds (four offensive) and three assists. Sullivan hit 6-of-9 shots for 16 points while Faye scored 13 points with 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks for his sixth double-double. Terrel Harris recorded his second-career double-double with 11 points, a career-high 11 rebounds and five assists.
The Armor (13-36) closed the first and opened the second quarter on a 15-4 run to pull within 36-24.
The Armor climbed within five twice in the third quarter, including 76-71 after a three-pointer by JamesOn Curry, but the Vipers closed the quarter on a 6-2 run to push their lead back up to nine and put the game out of reach.
Curry finished with a game-high 21 points.
The Vipers close the regular season when they face the Armor on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at State Farm Arena. It's Salvation Army Night. The first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive mini-fans, courtesy of the Salvation Army. Houston Rockets Hall of Fame mascot Clutch the Bear will perform. Fans take advantage of the State Farm Family 4 Pack, which is four tickets, four hot dogs and four sodas for just $44. There will also be a free pre-game tailgate party in the parking lot, courtesy of Pepper's at Uptown and Budweiser.
The Vipers are also hosting the RGVSports.com All-Valley Showcase beginning with the girls game at 2:00 p.m. That will be followed by a three-point shooting contest, a dunk contest and the boys game. Tickets to both games and the Vipers game can be purchased for $15 each. $1 from every ticket sold benefits the Salvation Army's Beat the Heat program.