FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Windy City Bulls, presented by BMO Harris Bank, the official G League affiliate of the Chicago Bulls, fell to the Erie Bayhawks on Thursday night, 127-124.
With both the Bulls and Bayhawks at similar positions in their respective seasons, the two teams played a back and forth contest in an opening half that contained seven ties and seven lead changes.
Windy City was able to build as large as a ten-point lead early in the second quarter behind steady play from Thomas Wilder with nine points and two assists in the first 24 minutes, Simi Shittu with eight points and four rebounds, and a solid .458 team shooting percentage from the floor.
Erie was able to grab a three-point lead, but that was quickly erased by back-to-back three-point plays from Shittu down low. Milton Doyle also surged for the Bulls heading into the half with ten quick points including back-to-back three-pointers to go along with four assists and three rebounds, giving Windy City a 54-53 lead at the break.
Leading the way for Erie in the first half were three players in double figures, including New Orleans Pelicans Two-Way player Zylan Cheatham, who had a double-double with ten points and ten rebounds.
Aubrey Dawkins out of Central Florida had ten points, three rebounds, and former Connecticut player Jalen Adams with ten points, five rebounds and three assists.
The Bayhawks opened the second half on a 13-4 run with some close looks at the basket, but the Bulls turned up the defense in the form of a half-court zone press to go on a 10-0 run of their own and answer back to take the lead on a three-pointer by Ferrakohn Hall.
Vitto Brown out of Wisconsin dropped 11 points in the third quarter for Erie while Justin Simon scored ten points for the Bulls as the lead traded hands multiple times. Erie led heading into the fourth, 86-80.
The Bayhawks stretched the lead to as much as ten in the final frame, but the Bulls fought back behind six three-pointers from Doyle in the final minutes of regulation to cut the deficit to 119-117. The score remained the same until Tre’Darius McCallum hit a scoop runner across the lane to tie the game at 119 with 16.6 seconds remaining.
Erie couldn’t get the look they want as time ran out and the game headed into overtime.
The Bulls started off well in the two-minute overtime period as McCallum went to the line for two free throws, making the first and then followed up his own miss on the second to give Windy City a 122-119 lead. Blossomgame was then fouled on a fast break lay-up and made both free throws to grow the lead to five.
Time was running out for the Bayhawks, but Brown was able to convert a four-point play after getting fouled by Adam Mokoka on a corner three attempt.
The Blossomgame free throws proved to be the final points Windy City would score, as Erie took possession of the ball with 8.8 seconds remaining in overtime, down 124-123.
Dawkins was fouled by Simon on an in-bounds lob attempt. He then made his first free throw to tie the game but missed the second. The loose ball fell into the hands of former Penn State Nittany Lion Tony Carr, who hit an open three from the wing with .4 seconds left to seal the win for the Bayhawks.
Cheatham dominated on the boards all night for Erie, finishing with 20 points, 21 rebounds, and a block. Brown and Josh Gray both ended with 24 points each.
Scoring 22 points in the second half and hitting six three-pointers in the fourth quarter to bring Windy City back, Doyle finished with 32 points to lead all scorers, six assists and five rebounds.
Simon ended with 18 points, five rebounds and four assists, and McCallum with 18 points, five rebounds and two assists on 3-for-5 from three for the Bulls.
Windy City (12-21) will face the Erie Bayhawks next Thursday following the NBA All-Star Break. The game will tip-off at 11 a.m. for Education Day at Sears Centre Arena.