Lightning strikes early en route to IBL title
Murray scores 22 in 111-94 win over Oregon
The Los Angeles Lightning jumped out to a 22-7 lead Tuesday night and never looked back on the way to claiming their first International Basketball League championship at Cal Lutheran.
Lamond Murray scored 22 points and Fred Vinson notched 14 of his 20 in the second half of a 111-94 victory over the Oregon Waves. The Lightning (18-5) won the series 2-1 by outshooting the visitors 50 to 40 percent and outrebounding them 59-45.
"It feels good to win the title," said Murray, a 12-year NBA veteran. "They got us on Sunday on the back-to-back (games). We got a day of rest ... you know we're old heads, so a good day of rest is important.
"We never lose our poise, even when we get down a couple of points. We know it's a long game. We've been there and we know we'll outsmart the younger players down the stretch."
Trayvon Lathan, a 6-7 guard who made his first start of the finals on Tuesday, collected 18 points and eight rebounds while Toby Bailey had 14 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists on a night when all five Lightning starters reached double-figure scoring.
Center Adam Parada added 15 points and nine boards for the Lightning. Point guard Darrick Martin, one of six former NBA players on the L.A. roster, contributed 10 points, six rebounds and eight assists.
David Lucas paced the Waves (16-9) with 30 points and nine rebounds. Robert Day, who scored a game-high 32 points on 8-14 long-range shooting in Oregon's 108-107 Game 2 win, managed just four points and went 0-11 on 3-pointers.
Murray scored eight points in the first eight minutes as L.A. built a 22-7 lead. The Lightning led 54-40 at the half and 82-64 after three quarters.
"The guys came out tonight and took care of business," said coach Ron Quarterman. "They had a different focus before the game. I knew if we played the way I know we can play, we'd win the game.
"This is a great beginning. Not bad for a second-year franchise, not bad at all."
The Lightning used a 13-4 run late in the second quarter and stretched the lead to 51-37 on a trey by Vinson.
"This was the final game, we wanted to win so bad," said Vinson, who shot 5-13 on 3-pointers. "We made some adjustments defensively and everybody came with a focus. We played a smart game."
The Waves cut a 23-point deficit to 13 in the final quarter when J.S. Nash (15 points) scored five straight. The Lightning regained control, however, with an 11-2 run, capped by a triple from Vinson that made it 100-78 with 6:15 to play.
Lathan made the play of the game by opening the fourth quarter with a coast-to-coast slam that made it 84-64.
Tony Strickland, a California State Senator from Thousand Oaks who played all season with the Lightning, capped the win with a layup in the closing seconds.
"I feel great," said Mark Harwell, the Lightning owner and GM. "This is two years in the making. We've been through a lot of struggles but the good outweighs the bad - it always does.
"The guys really hadn't put four good quarters together this year. Tonight, we really put it on them and our talent really showed."
What will the title mean for the future of the franschise?
"This means a lot for the community and building for the future," Harwell concluded. "Also, we're going to do tours in Brazil and Asia and being the IBL champions is going to help us quite a bit."