Blue Breaks Free Throw Record, Lifts D-Fenders Past Reno

By T.C. Greene | March 30, 2017

RENO, Nevada – The D-Fenders trailed for the majority of Wednesday’s game against the Reno Bighorns, but not when it mattered most. Powered by a 41-point performance from Vander Blue, Los Angeles took control in the fourth quarter to win their fifth consecutive road game while improving to 33-15 on the year.

Blue’s point total was largely a result of his persistence in attacking the basket. Overall, the three-time all-star connected on 23 of his 27 attempts from the charity stripe to break a league record that had stood since 2007.\

The D-Fenders were aided by double-doubles from a pair of veterans in Josh Magette (16 points, 12 assists) and Justin Harper (17 points, 10 rebounds). Meanwhile, Troy DeVries (19 points), Travis Wear (14 points, eight rebounds) and Deshawn Stephens (12 points) enjoyed double-digit scoring nights.

Reno (19-29) was led by David Stockton’s 23 points, seven rebounds and six assists, while Isaiah Cousins added 22 points and 11 rebounds. A trio of Bighorns also scored 19 points for the home team, contributing to a group of six double-digit scorers.

Los Angeles trailed for all but one possession in the first half as Reno shot 53.1 percent from the field in the opening two frames. Blue led all scorers with 17 points at the break, but it was the Bighorns that owned a 71-65 halftime advantage.

The D-Fenders ended the third quarter on a 13-5 run to cut it to a two-possession game, but the team wouldn’t hold the lead again until the 5:40 mark of the third frame, the result of a 24-foot DeVries three-pointer. Overall, the final period included three lead changes and four ties, but a combined 23 fourth-quarter points from Blue and Harper were too much for Reno to overcome.

L.A. trailed Reno in field goal percentage (.521-.478), rebounds (46-43) and assists (26-22), but the D-Fenders combined for 10 steals while forcing 20 pivotal Bighorns turnovers.

The D-Fenders will close out their regular season road schedule against the Santa Cruz Warriors at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 31, at the Kaiser Permanente Arena.