3rd-Quarter Defense, Timely Play-Making Highlights Venom’s Come-From-Behind Win 

Facing another undefeated team for the second consecutive outing, Hornets Venom GT battled back from an early loss to win its best-of-three series in dramatic fashion over Mavs Gaming on Wednesday, May 20.

Mavs Gaming set the tone early on in Game 1 with 42-28 halftime lead, and stayed comfortably ahead for most of the final two quarters. Hornets Venom made it interesting down the stretch, but ran out of room in the 72-64 loss. Guard Justin “Snubby” Stemerman finished with 26 points, forward Zaeya “Zae” Ishak had 14 and center Xavier “Type” Vescovi added another 11.

Mavs Gaming was led by center Peter “PeteBeBallin” Malin, who had 18 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists in the Game 1 win. Guard Justin “Sherm” Sherman (19), forward Joshua “Spartxn” McHatten (18) and guard Artreyo “Dimez” Boyd (12 points, seven assists) also scored in double figures for the hosts.

Hornets Venom came out a bit sharper in Game 2, although still trailed by one at the break. After outscoring Mavs Gaming 25-14 in the third quarter, the visitors held a five-to-eight-point lead for most of the fourth thanks to some long clock-killing offensive possessions. Forward Gio “Trap” Elizondo finally hit a dagger three-pointer from the corner with 45 seconds remaining to help seal a 67-57 win.

Snubby tallied 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting in the outing, with Zae (16), Type (15 points, seven rebounds, six assists) and guard Alex “Expose” Whelan (11) all crossing the 10-point plateau as well. PeteBeBallin double-doubled again with 19 points and 15 rebounds, Sherm finished with 18 points and Dimez added another 10 points.

Game 3 was a back-and-forth affair for a majority of the opening three quarters as Hornets Venom found itself holding a 57-51 advantage heading into the final six minutes. Mavs Gaming got back in front after a quarter-opening 11-4 run, but another timely triple from Trap at the 2:37 mark put Hornets Venom back in front by two.

Following eight combined empty possessions by both teams, Sherm attempted a contested go-ahead three-pointer from the left arc that was swatted away by Type and gobbled up by Zae. On the other end with less than 20 seconds remaining, Snubby calmly dribbled around the right elbow, avoided a pair of Mavs Gaming defenders under the basket and jammed in a lead-doubling reverse jam. Dimez responded with a basket, but a pair of Expose free throws with 2.3 seconds left sealed the 68-64 victory and series win.

Snubby led the team in scoring for the third straight outing, finishing with 28 points and four assists. Zae put up 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting and Type chipped in eight points, nine rebounds, six assists and five steals, while carefully navigating some second-half foul trouble. Dimez recorded 28 points for Mavs Gaming in Game 3, Sherm (14) and Spartxn (12) scored in double figures as well and PeteBeBallin made it three-for-three in double-doubles with 10 points and 13 rebounds.

Hornets Venom averaged just 6.3 turnovers per game over the series, while Mavs Gaming had a combined 37 giveaways on the night (12.3). There was also a 52-29 differential in the third quarters of Game 2 and 3 in favor of Hornets Venom, which also held Mavs Gaming to just 10-of-27 shooting (37.0 percent) from three in the final two contests (10-of-18 in Game 1; 55.6 percent)

Hornets Venom GT has one day off before another road game against Wizards District Gaming starting at 9 PM EST on Friday, May 22. Catch the action on ESPN2, Twitch.TV/NBA2KLeague, ESPN mobile or YouTube Gaming.

By Sam Perley