The Westchester Knicks were coming off a two-game road trip where the team went 1-1 and hoped to start off their three-game homestand with a victory. While the Grand Rapids Drive had a strong third quarter, Westchester came back in the fourth and fell short in the final minute of the game. The Drive walked out of the Westchester County Center with a 96-94 win.
Knicks assignee Ignas Brazdeikis led Westchester with 36 points, six rebounds and two steals on 16-of-28 shooting from the field and 4-of-9 from beyond the arc. Andrew White III recorded 16 points and five rebounds while shooting 4-of-5 from deep. Kenny Wooten tallied 14 points, five rebounds and four blocks. It was the second game in a row where Wooten blocked at least four shots. Kadeem Allen finished with 14 points and eight assists on 50 percent shooting from the floor in his season debut.
Brazdeikis came out strong in the first quarter and got to the basket a few times in the first quarter. He showed to be aggressive on the offensive end, while looking comfortable with his perimeter shot and showed he could back down his defender to the basket. The rookie forward even hit a spin move on his way to the basket in the third quarter.
“He was great tonight,” Westchester head coach Derrick Alston said. “You could tell he was in a good rhythm. He hasn’t played a lot up top with the Knicks, but he came down and gave us his all. He made some plays for us. He shot the ball really well. I felt like he did a lot of things for us that we needed, so it was a good showing for him.”
Grand Rapids had a good moments in the game where they caught up to Westchester. The Drive used a 15-5 run in the final 5:43 of the second quarter to have a six-point deficit at the half. The Drive outscored the Knicks 34-22 in the third quarter led by Jordan Bone’s 14 points and four threes made. The road team went on a 12-0 run in the final three minutes led by Devon Baulkman’s eight points.
“We let their some of their shooters get a little rhythm,” Alston told reporters following the game. “Before that, we were pretty much we were really good on defense. Slowing them down. (Jordan) Bone and (Sekou) Doumbouya. They got going. Hit some tough shots and that kind of hurt us a little bit and we were kind of going back and forth, but I just think we gave up some contested shots to some shooters that we shouldn’t have let get going.”
Westchester kept fighting in the fourth quarter and put up 12 points through the first half of the final quarter and reclaimed the lead. The two teams kept trading baskets in the second half of the quarter. Doumbouya hit a few big shots, including a three in the final 40 seconds. The Knicks fought until the final buzzer with Zak Irvin and Ignas Brazdeikis both getting a layup in the final 17 seconds, but the Drive walked out with the victory.
This is Westchester first test in the 2019-20 season. Monday’s game is the first of four games this week. With a young team, Derrick Alston said the players and staff are ready for the challenge.
“It’s going to be a challenge, but the guys are up for it,” Alston said. “I’m up for it. My coaching staff is ready, so we’ll be ready.”