LEICESTER RIDERS OPEN GAP AT TOP

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Jay Cousinard had 34 points as Leicester Riders extended their lead at the top of the BBL Championship to six points after defeating Plymouth Raiders 78-66. 

It leaves Rob Paternostro’s men in complete control of their title destiny but again they saved their best until late in the game, holding their visitors scoreless for almost seven minutes in the second half as a 7-0 run took them 58-54 in front.

And although Plymouth tried to rally, a further 10-3 burst pulled the leaders completed a ninth successive league victory to improve their record to 23-2, extending their gap over second-placed Newcastle.

Matt Scheck had 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Raiders.

Sterling Davis hit 22 points as Glasgow Rocks moved into third place in the BBL with an 83-65 win over Manchester Giants last night.

But the American player-coach saw his side almost blew an early 16-point lead before scrapping past the strugglers in the second half.

Glasgow raced 27-11 in front to stun Manchester in the first quarter but the visitors closed the gap to 43-37 at half-time after hitting ten points in a row.

Robinson’s three-pointer sent the Rocks 64-50 early in the fourth and although a 9-0 run briefly gave the Giants hope, the hosts reeled off 14 of the game’s last 16 points to keep up their charge up the table.

Cheshire Phoenix stayed in the play-off hunt with a 104-100 win over Surrey Heat, despite 44 points from Travis Holmes.

The Heat had been hoping to make ground in their race for third place but couldn’t hold off Phoenix, who were led by 30 points from Chez Marks.

The game was tied at 98-98 before a Marks three with 1.27 minutes remaining gave Cheshire the lead for good.

An Alif Bland dunk had erased two free throws from Albert Margai to make it 103-100 and a free throw from Shawn Myers made the game safe with Travis Holmes and Caylin Raftopoulos both missing threes.

P   Pl W L Pts
1 Leicester Riders (Q) 25 23 2 46
2 Newcastle Eagles (Q) 25 20 5 40
3 Glasgow Rocks (Q) 27 18 9 36
4 Plymouth Raiders (Q) 26 17 9 34
4 Worcester Wolves (Q) 26 17 9 34
6 Surrey Heat (Q) 28 17 11 34
7 London Lions 30 12 18 24
8 Sheffield 26 11 15 22
9 Cheshire Phoenix 30 10 20 20
10 Manchester Giants 28 9 19 18
11 Durham Wildcats 28 9 19 18
12 Mersey Tigers 27 0 27 0

Saturday: Riders rally extends lead

Jay Couisnard hit a late trio of free throws to give Leicester a 79-76 victory over Surrey on Saturday.

Heat lead by double digits for most of the game, thanks in large part to a 19-5 run early on, but Riders forced their way back in with a 27-6 run near the end that put them ahead 66-63, setting up the chance for Couisnard to win the game.

Riders’ Drew Sullivan scored 26 points, making Sullivan made 10/16 field goal attempts and pulling down 11 rebounds. Couisnard scored 23 points. Travis Holmes paced Surrey with 24 points.

Elsewhere, Sheffield Sharks pulled out a 79-63 win over London Lions.

The trophy winners finished the game with a 27-6 run to claim the victory.

Sharks’ Mike Tuck led all scorers with 25 points, while BJ Holmes had 20 points for Sharks. Demetrius Jemison finished with a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds. The Lions’ scorers were jointly led by Rod Brown and Tayo Ogedengbe with 14 points each.

Friday: Raiders deal Eagles title blow

Newcastle Eagles no longer have the fate of the BBL title in their own hands after a damaging 76-71 loss to Plymouth Raiders.

It is the first time the Tyneside outfit have lost four in a row at home in 13 years but this run could be the most costly.

Although Newcastle once again tried to rally from a huge deficit after trailing 33-14 at the end of a torrid opening period, they could come no closer than three as Plymouth – led by 26 points and 13 rebounds from Andreas Schreiber – held on.

“We showed character today,” said Raiders coach Gavin Love. “That’s been missing a few times this season but we had it today. And defensively, we were better than we have all season.”

Kareem Maddox had 13 points and 13 rebounds for Newcastle who have now three more loses than Leicester, who they face next Wednesday at John Sanford Centre in a must-win tie.

But it was again too little, too late, as the Eagles paid for a lacklustre beginning.

“It’s a nightmare first quarters we’ve been having, especially at home,” coach Fab Flournoy admitted. “To allow so many points and have so few energy and hustle plays is just taking our confidence away.”

He added: “It’s not about the title now. It’s about winning games.”

Elsewhere Sheffield Sharks tightened their grip on eighth place with an 80-71 defeat of Cheshire Phoenix.

Sharks remain eighth in the BBL Championship table with 20 points from 25 games, with a group of 3 teams that includes Phoenix with 2 fewer points and having played more games sitting just below them in the table.

After an even first half, Sharks came out of the break strongly, going on a 7-0 run with Nick Lewis scoring on a 3-pointer as well as assisting on baskets scored by Mike Tuck and Jemison.

Another 7-0 run put Sharks further out in front at 62-51 and a 6-0 mini-break had them up 80-65 late in the game. Phoenix would score the final six points of the game, but it was too late to cut into the Sharks lead.

Sharks’ Mike Tuck and Demetrius Jemison jointly led all scorers with 19 points each, with Tuck also having 14 rebounds as he completed a double-double. Nick Lewis had 18 points, 10 assists and 5 rebounds for the Sharks. For Phoenix, their scorers were led by Gabe Haskins with 18 points.

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