HIDALGO -- Matt Janning hit five three-pointers to lead the defending NBA Development League champion and third-seeded Rio Grande Valley Vipers tied the best-of-three Quarterfinals series with the sixth-seeded Bakersfield Jam with a 104-92 win in Game 2 on Tuesday at State Farm Arena in front of a crowd of 4,948.
In his return to the starting lineup, Janning finished 6-of-12 from the field and 5-of-8 from behind the arc for 17 points with five rebounds, three assists and one steal.
The Vipers (1-1) win their fourth consecutive elimination game dating back to last year's playoffs and force a decisive Game 3 Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. at State Farm Arena. Houston Rockets Hall of Fame mascot Clutch the Bear will perform. Fans can purchase $1 hot dogs, popcorn and soda as well as $1.50 beer. Tickets start at $7 and can be purchased by calling the Vipers at 972-1144 or online through Ticketmaster via rgvipers.com.
The Jam (1-1) jumped out to a 14-7 lead, but the Vipers came back to take their first lead with just over one minute remaining in the first quarter when Richard Roby hit a floater in the lane.
The Vipers took their largest lead of the game at 50-38 when Mouhammad Faye buried a three-pointer with 2:34 remaining in the second quarter. Derrick Byars scored the final seven points of the quarter, including a buzzer-beating three-pointer, to bring the Jam within 50-45.
The Vipers extended their lead to 59-49 on a Patrick Sullivan jumper at the 9:55 mark of the third, but the Jam responded with a 13-to-1 run to take a 62-60 lead on a jumper by D'Andre Bell with 5:58 remaining. The lead changed hands a few times after that, with the Vipers taking the lead for good when Jerel McNeal hit a lay-up during an 8-0 run that saw the Vipers build a 77-70 lead with 1:26 remaining in the third quarter.
McNeal converted a four-point play with 5:13 remaining in the fourth quarter to put the Vipers up 91-80 and put the game out of reach.
McNeal led the Vipers in scoring with 25 points on 9-of-23 shooting, including 5-of-10 from behind the arc. The Vipers hit 15-of-36 shots (41.7%) from behind the arc.
The Jam were led in scoring by Jeremy Wise, who finished with 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting.