HIDALGO -- The defending NBA Development League champion and third-seeded Rio Grande Valley Vipers win the best-of-three Quarterfinals series two games to one over the sixth-seeded Bakersfield Jam with a 112-99 victory in Game 3 on Wednesday at State Farm Arena in front of a crowd of 3,496.
The Vipers (2-1) win their fifth consecutive elimination game dating back to last year's playoffs and advance to the semifinals against either the second-seeded Reno Bighorns or the fifth-seeded Erie BayHawks, who play a decisive Game 3 in Reno on Thursday.
Jerel McNeal and Mouhammad Faye hit back-to-back three points to give the Vipers a 6-0 lead, but the Jam (1-2) responded with a 7-0 run to take the lead. Faye hit another three-pointer to give the Vipers the lead right back. The lead changed hands 12 times in the first half, with neither team leading by more than five points again until Matt Janning nailed a deep three pointer with 2.5 seconds left in the second quarter to put the Vipers up 59-53.
After Janning opened the third quarter with a jumper, the Jam hit back-to-back baskets to pull within 61-58 with 10:52 remaining. The Vipers responded with a 16-3 run. The Vipers scored the final 10 points of the run as Janning hit a three-pointer, the Vipers stole the ball, Jon Scheyer hit a three, and then the next time down the court Patrick Sullivan picked up a rebound and a tip-in. Jerel McNeal's lay-up put the Vipers up 77-61 with 7:00 remaining. The Vipers maintained a double-digit lead for the rest of the game.
McNeal led the Vipers in scoring for the third-straight game, tallying a double-double with 21 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds. Sullivan scored 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting with seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Janning hit four three-pointers while scoring 17 points. Terrel Harris scored 18 points with seven rebounds.
The Jam were led by Derrick Byars, who scored 26 points. Jeremy Wise finished with 25 points.