Austin Spurs sweep two-game series against Idaho

Steve Helwick

With a 3-point lead, the ball and 5.3 seconds left on the clock, the Austin Spurs planned to use free throws to seal a win over the Idaho Stampede.

Instead, the Spurs turned the ball over on the inbounds pass, and the Stampede’s E.J. Singler converted on a 3-pointer to tie the game.

“He made a hell of a shot,” Spurs coach Ken McDonald said. “We defended it pretty good and he just made a tough shot.”

But the Spurs’ plan to use free throws to win eventually worked. On the ensuing inbounds play Austin’s Deshaun Thomas was fouled with less than a second remaining, sending him to the free-throw line.

Thomas sunk the first free throw, giving the Spurs a 104-103 win — the second of back-to-back wins over the Stampede.

“We put together a great second half yesterday, and tonight, from the get-go, I thought we were ready to go and intense,” McDonald said.

The Spurs shot lights-out at the beginning of the first quarter, hitting 10-of-13 shots and their initial three 3-point attempts. The Stampede fought back near the hoop, scoring 54 of their points tonight inside the paint. The game stayed close throughout, neither team posting a double-digit lead.

The final 96 seconds of the tight game involved four official reviews, allowing McDonald plenty of time to implement late strategies to propel his team to victory.

“It’s a time to talk about what defensive schemes you’re going to go into. There’s a lot of stuff to talk about, so the review actually gives us more time.”

Thomas led the Spurs with 21 points on 80 percent shooting.

Friday night the Spurs battled back from a 17-point halftime deficit to take a 93-85 win over Idaho.

Newcomer Ray McCallum and Austin had equally poor first halfs. McCallum went 0-of-7 from the floor with just one point on a free throw while the Spurs hit just 34.3 percent of their shots as a team.

But the second half was a different story.

McCallum hit a 3-pointer on the first play of the second half, sparking the comeback run for the Spurs. He finished with 14 points in the last 24 minutes, and the Spurs scored 57 points in the final two quarters to come out with the win.

“I watched all my shots at halftime. I felt I was just shooting the ball short,” said the point guard, who had played with the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night. “For the second half, I came locked in, and the shots just went in for me.”

The win increase Austin’s home win streak to three games and improve the team’s Western Conference leading record to 18-9. The Spurs will begin February on a two-game road trip before returning to the Cedar Park Center again.