Leicester Riders fell out of the BBL Trophy, beaten by the Bristol Flyers 95-82, as the cup finalists registered their first ever win over the Riders since joining the league in 2014.
It was a fourth consecutive defeat for Leicester, their worst run since January 2011, as they struggled with the officiating and some excellent free throw shooting by the home side.
Bristol took 35 free throws, their second highest tally ever in BBL history, making 30 of them, the most Leicester have conceding in more than a decade.
Coach Rob Paternostro had highlighted the two Thomases as the dangermen for the Flyers and they combined for two-thirds of their side’s scoring. Gentrey Thomas had 18 points in the first quarter as the home side built up an early eight-point lead, but Jordan Spencer and Corey Johnson both got their first scores for the Riders as they cut the gap to 22-18.
Gentrey Thomas scored the last seven points of the first period to make it 29-18 after the first quarter, before Fred Thomas pushed the lead to 13. A spell of eleven unanswered points by Leicester had the gap down to 42-41 just before half-time however.
Riders took that momentum into the second half, Ky Cartwright and Darien Nelson-Henry combining for 11 points without a reply to lead 56-49. The Thomases, though, replied as Bristol scored eight in a row to move back ahead.
Every time Leicester looked like making a move, the Flyers got some points from the free throw line to keep the scoreboard ticking and then early in the fourth quarter Fred Thomas exploded for 11 points in 90 seconds as the home side moved 81-72 clear. That was the decisive move and Riders were unable to close the gap after that.
Despite suffering with foul trouble, Nelson-Henry made ten of his eleven shot attempts to post 20 points, whilst Cartwright also had 20 to go with his eight assists and five rebounds.
Flyers: G Thomas 30, F Thomas 27, Thomas-Edwards 16, Bradley 10, Delpeche 8, Champion 4, Mayindombe, Nicholls, Taylor, Dinnall.
Riders: Cartwright 20, Nelson-Henry 20, Anderson 9, Ward-Hibbert 7, Thomson 6, Johnson 6, Wright 5, Spencer 5, Chuku 4, Scott.
The Riders return to the Morningside Arena this Friday as they take on the Worcester Wolves in the BBL Championship. CLICK HERE to purchase your tickets!