Plymouth Raiders picked up a much-needed victory – but they needed OT to see off Worcester Wolves 114-111 on Sunday.

Gavin Love’s men – led by 29 points from Chez Marks – were forced to battle all the way by the visitors with the sides deadlocked at half-time at 47-47.

With regulation ending tied at 102-102, Plymouth made a decisive burst and Cody Toppert’s two late free-throws iced a priceless win.

Justin Robbins hit 36 for Worcester.

Nate Reinking delivered a dominant display for Mersey Tigers as the league leaders moved six points clear with a 87-78 defeat of Leicester Riders.

The visitors rattled off the first ten points of the game which at 8-0 had resulted in Tigers play-caller Tony Garbelotto calling a time-out to address the false start made by his team.

A Nate Reinking free-throw broke their early drought but Riders opened up a double digit deficit at 14-3 before James Jones finally got his team rolling with a three-pointer.

However Tigers posted a 9-0 run as centre Tafari Toney the rally and then Perry Lawson eventually handed his team their first lead of the game from outside at 27-25. Mersey’s defence was turning the screw and kept Riders to just four points in four minutes and, ahead of half-time, the home team made their move and scored 12 of the last 14 points to leave the court 43-35 ahead.

When the teams emerged once more, Drew Sullivan scored an early three and it was a sign of things to come as the Tigers began to dominate and effectively end the chances of the visitors.

They cruised into a 16 point lead with a powerful third quarter performance and while to their credit, Riders played hard until the final buzzer to reduce the deficit, the home team never looked like they were in any serious danger of giving up their lead to ensure they end 2010 on top of the standings.

Cheshire Jets remain the Tigers nearest challengers but Paul Smith’s men fell away badly in the second half as Glasgow Rocks came from 14 down to snatch a 91-87 win at the Kelvin Hall.

Disjointed in the first half, belligerent in the second, the hosts did just enough to sneak past the visitors and move up into fourth place. And it was player-coach Sterling Davis who led from the front, hitting a team-high 25 points.

“We want to get to the point where we’re beating quality teams and that’s what Cheshire are,” the American said. “We want to show we’re contenders and separate ourselves from the middle of the pack. And we now have to keep this up and try and get a few more wins before the New Year.”

Former Scotland captain Gareth Murray sparked a 9-0 run against his former team which sent Cheshire clear in the second quarter with their advantage growing to 52-42 at half-time. The Jets, led by 33 from Jeremy Bell, looked irrepressible when they pulled as much as 14 clear in the third. However the Rocks seized their chance with a battling late rally as Nick Livas converted a vital steal to thwart the Jets resolve.

Saturday: Tigers claw past Heat

BBL Championship leaders Mersey Tigers used a strong second half performance to beat Guildford Heat 85-70 in Surrey.

Tigers win was eventually comfortable but they were made to work hard until a decisive 12-2 run to end the third and then a 7-0 burst early in the final stanza gave the league leaders a decent cushion to hold off the Heat.

Sheffield suffered no BBL Cup hangover by comfortably beating Essex Pirates 99-72 on the road in Southend.

Less than 24 hours after celebrating reaching the BBL Cup final for the second consecutive season the Sharks ensured they kept themselves in the league title mix with an accomplished performance.

Leicester Riders have joined a group of clubs in fourth place in the BBL Championship following a 104-97 home win over Plymouth Raiders.

The Riders had JR Blount and Joseph Harris to thank for their victory with the duo both scoring 29 points to help their team overtake Raiders in the fourth quarter.

Leicester led 82-80 midway through the final stanza before Blount and Harris combined for 21 of their team’s next 22 points to put the match beyond a Raiders squad which had led at the end of the first three quarters.

Worcester Wolves eventually just had too much for Worthing Thunder as Paul James team won on the road 90-79.

Wolves, who now have a four point cushion for the eighth play-off position, led at the end of each quarter as they eased away from a hard-working Thunder side on the south coast.

Rod Middleton scored a team-high 22 points for Worcester and connected on four on his five attempts from beyond the three-point line.

Friday: Eagles land, Pirates fall

Newcastle Eagles remained unbeaten at their new home Sports Central thanks to a 96-65 success against Essex Pirates.

The visitors slumped to their eleventh loss in the BBL Championship as that first success continues to elude them. The young home-grown team competed well in the first half but were blown away during the third as the Eagles turned the defensive screw to hold the visitors to just five points in six minutes.

In-form guard Trey Moore led the way with 19 points as the Eagles joined Glasgow Rocks in joint fifth place in the standings while they were also buoyed by the return to fitness of Fab Flournoy although the player-coach opted not to take to the floor.

The player-coach chose to hand a BBL debut to young Ross Wilson and the Geordie small forward repaid him by getting on the score-sheet. Flournoy was happy with the effort of his team but also complimented the Pirates.

“All credit to Essex because they really troubled us at times with their energy and intensity in the first half.”

“We came out and rebounded much better in the second half and that was the difference in the game for us during the third quarter when we pulled away.”

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