CHICAGO – The Gateway Steam won their fourth and final game against the Chicago Force 127-116 on Saturday. The Steam (4-9) won the season series 3-1 including taking the final two meetings. Gateway’s third consecutive win also gave them sole possession of the final playoff spot. There is still a month to play, but the Steam are trending in the right direction and hold the tie breaker over the Force (3-10) – their presumed biggest challenge for the spot – with the head-to-head.
Saturday’s game saw the Steam down five points entering the final 12 minutes, but Gateway rallied by putting up a 44 point quarter – second only to the RiverSharks’ effort earlier that day in the same gym. The Steam shot 17-of-21 (80 percent) to the Force’s 8-of-22 (36 percent) in the quarter.
Tarvin Gaines scored 13 of his game-high 37 points in the fourth quarter including the go-ahead putback that gave the Steam the lead for good with 4:10 to play.
Brandon McGill scored 12 points and had 2 assists in the final period to finish with 16 points and 4 assists—his first double-digit scoring game in more than a month.
The difficulty level of the Steam holding onto the lead for the final four minutes was kicked up a notch at the three minute mark when Lee Fisher — the Steam’s leading scorer — and his 17 points and 7 rebounds on the day were fouled out of the game on a block-charge call that the referee on the baseline deemed a charge.
Gaines followed Fisher to the bench a little over 1:30 later with his sixth foul of the contest, further complicating things for Head Coach Durrell Robinson and his team.
However, the rest of the team held fast. Terrell Williams converted a three-point play with 43.5 seconds left to ice the game. The team – minus Fisher and Gaines – hit 17-of-19 free throws in the game.
Williams scored 13 points to finish in double figures for the fifth straight game. Raymond Jarrett scored a season-high 14 points. Babbitt was the sixth of six Steam players to finish in double-digits with his 10 points.
In the early going, it looked like the Steam might walk to their fourth win of the season after they led 34-25 after the first quarter, but the Force answered with a fury in the second quarter. Chicago opened the period on a 21-4 run which had Gateway playing catchup for most of the rest of the contest.
The Force were led on the stat sheet by Tremell Adams. Adams scored 24 points, but compared to recent events it was an off-night. Adams was coming off a pair of 40-point games, including 40 points with five 3-pointers in his last game against the Steam. On Saturday, Adams went 0-for-5 from 3-point range.
The Steam’s Sunday game at the Family Arena against the Champaign Swarm (9-3) was rescheduled to March 25 due to the snowstorm. Gateway instead will play their next two games on the road. Next Sunday, March 8, they will be back in Chicago to play the Windy City Groove (2-10). After a two week hiatus, March 22, the Steam will travel to Bloomington to take on the Flex (9-2).
(Photo Credit: Mick Lite)
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