Plymouth Raiders got rid of that sinking Sunday feeling as they bounced back from their Cup Final disappointment to bag a weekend win double in the BBL Championship.

Having routed in-form Guildford Heat on Saturday night, Gavin Love and his players returned to the Pavilions 24 hours later looking to strengthen their title bid and came up trumps with an 81-75 success against Cheshire Jets.

However they left it late and found it considerably more difficult than during their previous game, having to fight back from an 11 point deficit during the third quarter to finally get the victory – thanks mainly to Jeremy Bell who torched his former team for 27 points.

Having crashed at Worcester Wolves on Saturday evening, this was the second road loss of the weekend for Jets despite the best efforts of Adam Brown who poured in 25 points against Raiders while Matt Schneck landed a double-double of 21 points and 16 rebounds.

Bill Cole also landed a double-double for Jets after claiming 13 points and 17 rebounds but endured a torrid night shooting-wise.

Glasgow Rocks sustained a humbling 89-75 defeat to lowly Mersey Tigers as their title hopes were surely left in tatters. The Kelvin Hall outfit can point to cruel fortune with injuries as an excuse for their ongoing slide. In truth, the malaise cannot be attributed to ill health alone.

The reigning champions had won only twice all season but simply tore Sterling Davis’ lacklustre side to shreds. The Rocks player-coach, intent on resting a troublesome Achilles, instead was forced to bring himself on to play during the third quarter with the hosts trailing by 17. Playing through the pain, the move only gave him a closer view of a dreadful display.

“I was really disappointed with the effort,” said Davis. “There just seemed to be a lack of interest out there in the first half. I think guys made certain presumptions about Mersey and didn’t come to play.”

Mersey swept 18-7 ahead in the first period and were subsequently unchallenged. By half-time, their advantage was 47-34 and with leading scorer Mychal Green clearly hampered by his own injury, Glasgow lacked any true spark.

The visitors began the third period with a 10-0 run and the Rocks slipped out of sight, eventually trailing by as much as 72-48 with ten minutes left before a late rally cut the deficit to 12.

Davis, whose side was led by 15 points from Green, admits he may have to replace EJ Harrison this week if scans on the club captain forecast a further delay in his recovery. On this evidence, there will be others who might worry if their tenure is on shaky ground.

Saturday: Eagles win derby

Newcastle Eagles showed their championship credentials once more as they dug themselves out of a hole to beat local rivals the Durham Wildcats 94-101. The Eagles have now won six games in a row and are still yet to lose on the road in the BBL Championship this season. But that form wasn’t evident on the night as they relied on a fourth quarter surge from Joe Chapman to win the game. He and Charles Smith led their scoring with 26 points each, while Mike Capocci led all scorers with 27 for the hosts.

Despite trailing early on, the Wildcats led for much of the game as Mario Flaherty’s dunk just before the half, and two short bursts after it, helped them to a 70-60 lead with three minutes to play in the third quarter. That forced the Eagles into a game-changing timeout and, crucially, they came out of that to narrow the deficit to 75-70 going into the fourth period. The Eagles carried that momentum into the fourth as they outscored their hosts 17-7 over the opening five minutes behind 10 points from Chapman. And they never looked back from there as a Chapman triple and Paul Gause’s basket gave them a double-figure lead of their own at 84-95 with two minutes to play, meaning the game had seen a 21-point swing in the space of ten minutes.

Meanwhile, the Worcester Wolves have won four league games in a row – and eight of their last nine – after beating the Cheshire Jets 97-87, thereby condemning the Jets to a fourth straight defeat. Sherrad Prezzie-Blue led the way with a double-double of 24 points and 10 assists for the Wolves, while Tommy Freeman hit five three-pointers on his way to 19 points.

The game was tight through the opening exchanges until a 7-0 burst, with 5 points for Prezzie-Blue, gave the Wolves an 18-10 lead which they held through to the end of the first quarter at 24-16. The Wolves pushed on from there with what turned out to be the decisive run of the game as they opened the second stanza with a stunning 10-0 surge in a little over two minutes, with 5 points from David Watts and a triple from Freeman, for a score of 34-16. From there, the closest the Jets would get was the final score.

Milton Keynes Lions snapped a run of back-to-back league defeats as they beat Leicester Riders 77-75 in the East Midlands. The Riders came within a whisker of one of the most memorable come backs in their history, but eventually fell to their first league defeat in five games. Demarius Bolds led the scoring for the victors with 19 points to go with 6 rebounds and 5 steals, while Daniel Northern had a massive double-double of 16 points and 18 rebounds.

The Lions have a first half rout to thank for their victory. The Riders scored the opening basket of the game and led 4-2 after the first minute, but were then inflicted with an early 16-0 surge from their visitors and a five minute scoreless spell as Bolds, with 9 points, inspired the Lions into a 18-4 lead, which was 29-10 after the opening period.

Things only got better for the Lions as they held their hosts scoreless for the opening two and a half minutes of the second period, by which time they led by 25. Things changed as Bradd Wierzbicki and Andrew Sullivan shared 6 points within a minute and the Riders got back to 37-19 in what was a 9-2 burst. They made another run just before half-time as they finished the period 10-2 in the last four minutes with 6 points for Wierzbicki and a three-pointer from Sullivan. That run meant that they had recovered to 45-35 at the half.

The Riders chipped away at that lead in the second half and got to within two points in the third period. But the Lions edged back out to 67-58 on Crawford’s score early in the fourth before a pulsating finale ensued. Four points from Hardy and a Wierzbicki score cut the gap to 68-70 and the teams were still separated by only one score at 71-73 heading into the final two minutes. With 1.20 to play Cameron Rundles made it a one point game with a free-throw and, amazingly, Wierzbicki’s steal sent Rundles running to put the Riders into the lead at 75-74 with 43 seconds to play. But the visitors held their nerve and Adrien Sturt scored a three-pointer with four seconds left to win the game; the Riders had time for one more possession but Bolds stole the ball on the inbounds play.

Plymouth Raiders bounced back from last weekend’s BBL Cup Final defeat, and won their sixth straight league game, in beating the Guildford Heat 98-68.

Jeremy Bell led the scoring with 27 points, supported by a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds for Paul Williams. Mike Martin scored 20 points for the Heat.

Despite a close first half, the Raiders used a surge around the half time break to win the game. Trailing 34-35 they called a timeout and responded swiftly with a 6-2 run to see them up 40-37, and they still led 47-41 by the half after a period in which the Heat committed ten fouls and the Raiders scored nine free-throws.

The hosts maintained that momentum after the break and scored the first 10 points with former Heat player James Jones getting 6 of those. The teams traded baskets thereafter until the Raiders made another decisive run just before the end of the quarter with five straight points, including a Michael Ojo triple, sending the margin through the twenty mark going into the fourth quarter at 74-53. The Raiders finished in style as the lead peaked at 93-60 after a 19-6 spell early in the fourth.

Friday: Eagles, Riders soar

Newcastle Eagles and Leicester Riders enjoyed comfortable victories on Friday night as the Eagles picked up a 86-67 victory over Sheffield at Sport Central, while the Riders also secured a 66-85 victory over the Mersey Tigers .

The Eagles lead from tip-to-buzzer in the game and steadily opened up a lead throughout the course of the contest, thanks in no small part to an impressive 18 points from Paul Gause as he led all scorers in the game.

Leicester also picked up a comfortable victory with Bradd Wierzbicki leading the charge with 20 points for the Riders to keep their strong grip on third position in the Championship table.

David Aliu trimmed the deficit to 14 points at 64-50 in the final period but eight points from Wierzbicki helped the Riders pick up the impressive victory.

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