HIDALGO -- Terrel Harris hit a three-pointer with 11.4 seconds left in overtime to lift the defending NBA Development League champion and third-seeded Rio Grande Valley Vipers past the second-seeded Reno Bighorns 98-96 in Game 1 of the Semifinals on Sunday at State Farm Arena in front of a crowd of 5,239.
The Vipers (3-1) take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series and can secure a berth in the Finals for the second year in a row with a win on Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. at the Reno Events Center.
The Vipers led 88-79 with 6:54 remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Bighorns (2-2) scored the next 12 points, including a three-point play by Donald Sloan with 4:19 remaining to give the Bighorns their first lead since the first quarter, and a driving lay-up with 3:37 remaining to put the Bighorns up 91-88.
Patrick Sullivan hit a lay-up with 2:43 remaining to bring the Vipers back within one and Jon Scheyer hit a lay-up with 1:00 remaining to give the Vipers a 92-91 lead. Mo Charlo hit one of two free throws with 44.5 seconds remaining to tie the game and force overtime.
Charlo hit a jumper with 1:43 left in overtime to give the Bighorns the lead. Harris missed his first try at responding, but got a rebound and put the ball back in the basket 21 seconds left to tie the game. Anthony Richardson hit a basket the next time down the court, but missed a free throw as the Bighorns went up 96-94. Mouhammad Faye hit 1-of-2 free throws to bring the Vipers within one. In the Vipers' final possession Jerel McNeal drove inside, and as the defense collapsed, he passed the ball to Harris to set-up his only three-pointer of the game. Charlo missed a jumper in an attempt to tie the game at the buzzer.
McNeal led the Vipers in scoring four the fourth-straight game with 31 points. Scheyer scored 20, Sullivan finished with 17 points, 16 rebounds and three blocks while Harris scored 10 points with 12 rebounds.
Richardson and Sloan led the Bighorns in scoring with 21 points each.
McNeal hit a pair of jumpers, including one from behind the arc as the Vipers jumped out to a 9-2 lead. The Bighorns came back to take the lead at 14-13 on a lay-up by Andre Emmett with 5:33 remaining in the first quarter. Scheyer hit a three-pointer to give the Vipers the lead back, but Emmett tied it with a lay-up. Richard Roby followed with a baseline drive that led to a reverse lay-up to give the Vipers an 18-16 lead at the 3:47 mark.
Emmett recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
The Bighorns opened the third quarter on a 12-6 run to pull within 56-54 on a three-pointer by Marcus Landry at the 8:58 mark, but the Vipers responded with a 14-0 run punctuated by a reverse-layup from Sullivan at the 4:27 mark to make it 70-54.