It was another successful weekend for the Leicester Riders who were victorious against both the Worcester Wolves and Manchester Giants keeping pressure on the London Lions at the top of the BBL Championship table.
Leicester Riders 121 v Worcester Wolves 70
BBL Championship – Saturday 21 April
Leicester Riders produced the biggest win of the BBL Championship season as they smashed Worcester Wolves 121-70 at Morningside Arena.
Their 121 was not only the most anyone has ever scored at Morningside Arena, but it was the most any Riders team has managed at home in a non-overtime game since April 1997. Whilst Riders were running up the scoring records, the Wolves main contribution to the historic nature of the game was to collect a staggering nine technical fouls for dissent.
Worcester did briefly lead after scoring the first five points of the contest, but once Tim Williams and JR Holder helped Leicester into a 16-9 advantage it was one-way traffic.
Conner Washington and Josh Ward-Hibbert connected with consecutive threes as Riders had 26 points on the board inside seven minutes of action. They finished the first period with a triple from Holder for a 33-point quarter, their best opening period for almost exactly a year.
The Wolves may have netted five points in a row, but the onslaught continued as Pierre Hampton and Josh Ward-Hibbert piled on the points to move Leicester to a half century barely 13 minutes into the game.
If it was a boxing fight, the contest probably would have been stopped by that point, but even though they were easing off, Riders lead continued to grow and midway through the second period they were 30-points clear.
By half-time Riders had a 63-32 advantage, the most points they had scored in a half since 2009 and their biggest lead at the interval in three years.
Charnwood student Hosanna Kitenge had already seen action in the first half and with the result beyond doubt, the youngster got an extended run out in the second half as Rob Paternostro ensured everyone saw good minutes.
It didn’t make any difference to the lop-sidedness of the game who was on court, Riders lead continued to grow and grow in the second half, passing the 40-mark midway through the third quarter.
Down the stretch Ward-Hibbert and Kiefer Douse made hay as Riders pushed their winning margin past the 50-point mark, only the eighth time they’ve won a league game in the BBL by half a century.
Six players posted double figures, led by Douse and Ward-Hibbert with 21 points each, the later also grabbing his BBL career high 12 rebounds for an impressive double-double.
Head Coach Rob Paternostro was happy with his teams performance. “We knew that they played last night so we wanted to jump on them early, I thought the first unit really got us going, then the second unit came in and event furthered the lead. Having that lead early was great for us and I think we really showed a complete performance tonight”.
Riders: Ward-Hibbert 21, Douse 21, Holder 20, Williams 16, Washington 14, Hampton 14, Anderson 6, Gamble 6, Kitenge 2, Thomson 1, Lascelles, Clark.
Wolves: Whelan 19, Crawford 18, Prosper 8, Freeman 8, Navajas 8, Combs 5, Servera 4, Ogunbona, Williamson, Johnson-Thompson.
Manchester Giants 66 v Leicester Riders 73
BBL Championship – Sunday 21 April
Leicester Riders have done all they can, the conclusion of the title race now rests in the hands of the leaders London Lions. Riders defeated Manchester Giants 73-66 to push the defence of their crown at least one day further.
Riders were made to work hard by a Manchester side who needed to win to keep their outside play-off hopes alive and whilst for much of the first half that looked likely, their ill-discipline eventually allowed Leicester to take control of the game from the free throw line.
With all to play for, Giants jumped out to an 11-4 lead before a pair of Jamell Anderson triples cut the deficit to just a point. Willie Clayton broke the BBL rebounding record in the first quarter as the Giants maintained their advantage, leading 24-19 at the end of one.
Six straight points had the home fans dreaming the complex set of results required to get them over the line might just happen when they led 37-25, but Riders scored the last five points of the first half and the first four of the second to cut it to 37-34.
Giants were starting to lose their cool, a string of fouls including a couple of technicals saw Leicester post a spell of 14-3, with ten of them coming from the foul line. That made it 52-47 to the Riders with 12 minutes to go and the writing was on the wall for the home side.
A couple of big threes from Tory Butler and Dean Wanliss gave Giants a glimmer of hope in the fourth quarter, but in truth Riders managed the last quarter very well and never looked too troubled.
Holder led the way with 18 points as well as 13 rebounds and five steals, with Hampton and Williams also causing Giants problems inside.
Giants: McCall Jr 13, Clayton 12, Butler 12, Granic 10, Jones8, Wanliss 5, Jones 3, Bankevics 3, Williams, Oldham, Davis.
Riders: Holder 18, Hampton 14, Williams 13, Anderson 11, Thomson5, Douse 5, Clark 4, Washington 3, Gamble, Ward-Hibbert, Lascelles, Kitenge.
The Leicester Riders take on the Surrey Scorchers in their final BBL Championship Home game of the season, CLICK HERE to get your tickets!