It needed overtime but Surrey Heat secured a top four place with a 101-99 victory over Plymouth Raiders on Sunday, setting them on course for a BBL play-off clash with Worcester Wolves.
The defeat leaves the Raiders in sixth place and they will face Glasgow Rocks in next week’s two-legged quarter-finals.
But the Heat – paced by 27 from Travis Holmes – gained some priceless momentum, using a 9-2 start to the extra period to pull away and then holding off Plymouth’s fightback.
Mike Ojo hit a game-high 29 for the Raiders.
Glasgow Rocks ended up in third place after hammering Mersey Tigers 90-57.
Sterling Davis’ men will now face Plymouth in next weekend’s play-off quarter-finals and the American reckons his side are ready to make a run at the prize.
He said: ““If we play the way we should do, I think we’re a team that can make some noise.”
The result means Mersey are the first team in BBL history to fail to record a single win all season.
Although the Tigers built a shock early lead, a 19-1 surge from Glasgow ended their hopes. And with Gareth Murray firing 18 points, the Rocks rolled clear in the fourth quarter.
Leicester Riders laid down a marker for the post-season and ended the campaign as champions by a margin of ten points by completing a season sweep over Newcastle Eagles with an 86-75 win.
A dominant 11-0 run in the third quarter pushed Leicester clear of the short-handed Eagles, who rested Joe Chapman and Damon Huffman.
“A great achievement, undefended at home for a whole regular season,” said Drew Sullivan, who had a team-high 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Riders, who take on London next.
Darius Defoe hit 32 to lead Newcastle.
Manchester Giants ended their first top-flight campaign in their new incarnation in ninth spot with a 114-92 win over Durham Wildcats.
James Jones hit a game-high 24 points as the visitors out-scored Durham 22-7 in a torrid second half spell to pull away.
Sheffield Sharks warmed up for their play-off clash with Newcastle by pulling away late for a 85-72 win over Cheshire Phoenix.
In the second period, Sharks forced Phoenix into missing 10 field goal attempts in a row as they built up a 18-3 run and took a 33-20 lead. Jerome Gumbs scored 12 of Cheshire’s points in a 19-8 third quarter that brought them back into the game and left them trailing by just 4 points with 4 minutes to play.
However, Sheffield then produced a great shooting display, making all six of their final shots, while allowing Cheshire to only connect on a single field goal. That allowed them to finish the game with a 14-3 run and seal the victory.
BBL Final standings 2012-13
Play-off quarter-finals: Leicester Riders v London Lions, Newcastle Eagles v Sheffield Sharks, Glasgow Rocks v Plymouth Raiders, Surrey Heat v Worcester Wolves
All ties will be played over two legs, with the winner decided on aggregate.
Saturday: Worcester crush sorry Plymouth
Worcester Wolves did what they had to do to stand a chance of finishing fifth in the BBL Championship with a crushing 106-69 victory at woeful Plymouth Raiders on Saturday.
The Wolves were dominant from start to finish as they won all four quarters and forced the Raiders and Heat to fight it out on Sunday to determine the overall make up of the fourth, fifth and sixth positions in the table. Glasgow Rocks, currently third, will retain their position if they beat Mersey Tigers.
Alex Owumi led the scorers for Wolves with 19 while Raiders’ Javarris Barnett had a game-high 24 points.
Plymouth – without Drew Lasker – were leading 8-6 on a two from Matt Schneck before Wolves embarked on a 22-3 run to seize control.
Carlos Fernandez started the burst with a three and there were further triples from Arnas Kazlauskas and two by Sherrad Prezzie-Blue as Wolves went 28-11 up. Barnett had the last score of the quarter to trim the visitors lead back to 28-13.
Prezzie-Blue drained another trey to begin another dominant spell in the early stages of the second quarter.
Wolves quickly moved their lead beyond 20 on a two from Stanley Ocitti and their advantage peaked at 47-19 on a three from Owumi.
Twice more, both times through Arturas Masiulis they reached the same margin – 51-23 being the second occasion – before the Raiders ended the half on an 11-5 run to cut the deficit to 56-34 at half time.
There was no let up in the third quarter with Kazlauskas’ three giving Worcester a 71-41 lead.
Up 78-49, heading into the final period, Wolves ended the game on a 15-2 run to finish with their largest lead of the night.
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