Leicester Riders vs London Lions
(19-30, 9-17, 24-18, 23-16)
Riders – Jackson 14, Mackenzie 13, Loving/Whelan 12; Lions – Dekker 21, Koufos 17, Ward-Hibbert 12
The London Lions placed on a defensive clinic within the first half to beat the Leicester Riders in a tightly contested 81-75 victory on the Morningside Area on Tuesday night time.
The Riders got here into the sport with a 23-game successful streak on their house flooring, and the Morningside Area was packed for one of many season’s greatest matchups.
One other win would have seen Leicester equal their longest streak of 24 house wins, a document they set throughout the 2012/2013 season. As a substitute, it was the Riders’ first house loss since November 2021.
The Riders presently sit on the prime of the league desk, however the Lions boast essentially the most spectacular document – dropping solely two video games this season.
With this newest win, London will really feel assured going into their BBL Cup Last with Leicester subsequent month, having overwhelmed their nearest rivals, the Riders and the Bristol Flyers, in the previous couple of weeks.
Sam Dekker led all scorers for London with 21 factors. Kosta Koufos was a formidable presence inside, scoring 16 factors and grabbing 14 rebounds. For the Riders, Zach Jackson had 14, and Kimbal Mackenzie completed with 13 factors.
The Lions, who’ve top-of-the-line defensive data within the league, utilised their spectacular dimension and athleticism to restrict the variety of three-pointers for the Riders within the first half.
Leicester linked on one among their six three-point makes an attempt and shot 28% from the sphere. The Lions additionally have been dominant on the boards, grabbing 12 greater than their opponents within the first half regardless of taking part in with out Tomislav Zubcic.
Former Leicester guard Josh Ward-Hibbert began instead of Zubcic and earned his place within the lineup scoring 12 factors and grabbing ten boards. It was additionally a battle between GBs most interesting younger gamers, Patrick Whelan and Luke Nelson.
The guests got here out aggressive. Koufos opened the scoring off a pick-and-roll move from Jordan Taylor earlier than Nelson knocked down the three from the highest of the important thing.
Whelan was the brilliant spark for the Riders early, discovering just a few openings and changing from the free-throw line. Nevertheless, the momentum was agency with the guests.
Ward Hibbert iced a nook three off a Dekker help. The latter added 5 fast factors off his personal with a three-pointer and a putback off the Koufos miss.
An and-one from Koufos and additional scores from Ward-Hibbert and Hruban gave the Lions an 11-point lead early within the first quarter.
Dekker closed the dominant quarter with a buzzer-beater over 7’3″ Aaron Menzies. The final time the Riders have been down 19 at house was January 2010, after they trailed 53-29 to Glasgow Rocks.
Jubril Adekoye led the Riders’ second-quarter push with a few robust defensive performs and bought on the scoreboard with a baseline end.
However the Lions turned to their huge man Koufos, who knocked down a few hook photographs and exploited the Riders’ zone defence. The Riders bought some prompt offence from Mackenzie, who scored on a blistering left-handed drive after which nailed a pull-up jumper, plus the foul.
Closing out the second quarter, Ward-Hibbert knocked down the second buzzer-beater of the night.
Derryck Thornton and Jackson opened the scoring for the Riders within the third quarter – with the Riders wanting like a brand new crew. Jackson personally added six factors and capped it off with an and-one over Nelson.
Nelson and Thornton traded a pair of three-pointers because the Riders hovered on the 12-point margin.
Marc Loving summed up the house aspect’s resilience within the third, patiently working within the mid-post – pivoting, he faked, spun and threw up a one-legged jumper to beat the shot clock.
The Lions have been starting to chill off after their blistering first half. Turnovers, which have been the Lions’ Achilles heel this season, led to scores for Mackenzie and Whelan to carry the result in solely eight factors.
Sam Dekker calmly put collectively 19 factors and linked on a three-pointer to open the ultimate quarter. He and Hruban put a fast 5-0 run collectively, which prompted Leicester coach Rob Paternostro into the timeout.
The Lions turned to Koufos, who scored on the block as he had achieved all night time. However the Riders saved the sport shut – Jackson continued his second-half tear, rising for a transition three to chop the deficit again to 7 factors.
With Loving discovering the web, too, a Dekker fumble appeared to provide Leicester hope with a minute to play and solely trailing by 4 factors.
Nevertheless, the Riders couldn’t capitalise on the additional possession, and Dekker’s two free throws put the sport out of attain, ending the 23-game successful streak at house.
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