Leicester Riders set up a BBL Trophy semi-final showdown with either Newcastle or Worcester with a crushing 82-68 win at Surrey Heat on Friday.
Jay Couisnard hit a game-high 22 points as the Cup winners found themselves pegged back after grabbed an early 15-2 lead only to make a decisive late push.
The Heat edged back in the second period with a 13-2 tear which saw Chavis Holmes score 4 in a row, followed by two Albert Margai three-pointers which put Surrey 37-35 ahead.
But a 10-2 run pushed Leicester in ftont at half-time and they pulled away in the second half, sealing the game with a 7-0 burst at the start of the fourth period before they eventually pulled as much as 82-64 clear in the last minute.
Drew Sullivan added 19 points and seven rebounds. Julius Joseph led the Heat with 16.
Top two jostle for league supremacy
Newcastle Eagles stayed two points clear of Leicester at the head of the standings with a 106-65 rout of Durham Wildcats on Sunday.
It came after the Riders crushed Mersey Tigers 84-64 on Saturday but the champions will not let go off their title easily.
Charles Smith racked up an astonishing 49 points against Durham including eight three-pointers and also completed a double-double by amassing a fantastic 16 rebounds. While Joe Chapman had a triple-double of 18 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. After leading 54-38 at half-time, Newcastle out-scored their hosts 34-17 in the third and breezed away.
Glasgow Rocks captain EJ Harrison provided the drama as the American’s last-second three-pointer secured a 69-66 victory over London Lions at the Emirates Arena which keeps his side on the shoulders of the top four in the British Basketball League.
The American guard had a team-high 17 points and all were vital as Sterling Davis’ men rallied from 19 down in the second quarter to stun their guests. But it was Davis who personally started a 17-0 run that eventually brought the hosts back to trail 41-39 at half-time.
However after London’s Orlan Jackson completed his game-best tally of 26 with a three that tied the contest with 53 seconds to go, it was left to Harrison to coolly convert from long range with an overtime period looking inevitable.
Cheshire Phoenix lost 100-93 at home to Plymouth Raiders as Mike Ojo hit 40 points on his return.
It was at the end of the third quarter when the visitors took control, mainly through the superb display of Ojo, as his three-pointer helped Raiders score eight of the last ten points to move 82-73 ahead.
However, Phoenix came storming back with a great start to the final quarter, rattling off the first seven points and setting up an exciting conclusion to the game.
Raiders were 90-88 ahead with three minutes left but they sealed victory from the free-throw line.
Chez Marks had 31 points against his former team.
Friday: Rocks excel
On Friday, Donald Robinson hit 30 points as Glasgow Rocks swept past Cheshire Phoenix 87-69 to tighten their grip on fifth place in the British Basketball League. And Sterling Davis’ men were barely troubled as they pulled as much as 29 clear in the second half.
Robinson had 14 in the opening quarter as Glasgow edged ahead but the rookie sat for most of the second as his side reeled off nine consecutive points to put Cheshire under pressure. Chez Marks, the league’s leading scorer, ignited the Phoenix’s challenge as they closed the gap to 43-37 at half-time but it was a false dawn.
With Jamie Vanderbeken hitting a trio of three-pointers, and the visitors collapsing defensively, the Rocks imposed themselves with ease, holding Cheshire to just 11 points in the third period.
And they coasted even further clear, Andrew Wedemire draining a three with four minutes left to give the hosts an 81-52 cushion as the Phoenix went up in flames. “Donald’s got that scoring potential in him but he’s got to be consistent,” said Davis. “The frustrating thing is when he forgets his defensive responsibilities and we’re going to continue to push him to hit this kind of level every night.”
The Wolves, meanwhile, were almost as impressive in beating the Manchester Giants 88-75 on the road, Stan Ocitti and Alex Owumi equally splitting 40 points to lead the scoring, with the former adding 10 rebounds and the latter 5 assists. The Wolves led from early on and throughout after they edged the first quarter, despite finding themselves 11-6 in arrears as Nick George and David Watts, with a three-pointer, scored consecutively.
The Wolves hit back with a 9-2 run, with Ocitti hitting 5 and Owumi 4 and then, after being pegged back to a tie at 15, Arnas Kazlauskas hit a three-pointer with the last play of the first quarter to give them the lead. That gave them momentum and they opened the second stanza with a 14-2 surge midway through to establish a double-digit lead at 28-39 behind three-pointers from Carlos Fernandez and Kazlauskas. Two big runs in the third quarter, firstly of 11-2 and then of 15-2, settled the game in the third quarter and gave the visitors the cushion that they needed to hold off the Giants in the fourth quarter.
In the scrap for play-off places, Sheffield strengthened their position with an 88-70 defeat of the Durham Wildcats. Micah Williams led the scoring with 26 points, shooting 60% from the field and 57% beyond the arc, while Mike Tuck added a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds. The game was tight through the early exchanges, before the Sharks established a commanding lead with a 10-3 spell in which Andrew Bridge scored the last four points, helping them to a 23-16 advantage after the opening ten minutes.
Despite being pegged back by a 10-0 run which saw the game tied at 26, the Sharks dominated the rest of the second in what proved to be a decisive period. Williams hit a trio of triples in a minute to restore order in what became an 18-2 push for the hosts that was capped by back-to-back Nick Lewis three-pointers in the space of 30 seconds. The Sharks led 49-34 and made six three-pointers in the period, with Williams scoring 12 points and dishing out 2 assists. They were never threatened thereafter.
It was a different game in the capital as the London Lions took a share of a BBL Championship Playoff spot after holding off a surprise challenge from winless Mersey Tigers before taking a 88-79 win.
Jordan Spencer led the Lions with 21 points, including five three-pointers, while Adrien Sturt added 17 and 9 rebounds. The Tigers led after the first quarter but, despite the Lions getting in front in the second neither team could establish much of a lead throughout. That was until a frantic fourth quarter in which the teams shared 65 points; from a one point deficit, the Lions scored the next 5 points, Spencer connecting from beyond the arc, and established a lead at 62-58 that they would not relinquish.
They headed into the final four minutes with a one point lead when Mahmood Diakite made a three-pointer to initiate the decisive spell as, soon after, the Lions recorded a 6-0 run, including another Sturt triple, to lead 84-75 inside the final minute. That was the biggest lead of the night and saw the Lions over the line.
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