It was a busy weekend for the Riders who hosted the Newcastle Eagles on Friday night at the Morningside Arena before travelling to play the Manchester Giants on Sunday night. The Riders went 1-1 on the weekend defeating the Eagles 86-76 in front of a sell out crowd but then unfortunately fell to the Giants 75-73 in a tightly contested battle up in Manchester.
Leicester Riders 86 v Newcastle Eagles 76
BBL Championship – Friday 15 March
A strong start to the fourth quarter saw Leicester Riders overcome their fierce rivals Newcastle Eagles and claim a seventh win in a row. Leicester had trailed heading into the final ten minutes, but a 20-4 blast sent them on their way to an 86-76 victory.
Riders jumped out to a great start, with five points from Tim Williams and threes from Conner Washington and Jamell Anderson giving them an 11-4 lead, but Victor Moses quickly had the Eagles within a point.
Defensively, Leicester focused on keeping the ball out of the hands of Newcastle’s playmaker Rahmon Fletcher, but despite doing so effectively they were unable to pull away and led 21-19 at the end of the opening quarter.
Pierre Hampton and Andy Thomson helped Riders to get a bit of daylight at 35-27, but Moses was causing them problems on the offensive glass and he and Kai Williams combined to cut the deficit to only two points at the interval.
Hampton hit back-to-back three-pointers at the start of the second half to move Riders five clear, but Jeremy Smith and Kai Williams matched him to edge the Eagles in front. The visitors then netted nine consecutive points to open their biggest lead of the contest at 60-54.
Newcastle still led by five at the start of the fourth quarter, but a JR Holder triple to start the period helped Leicester tie the game at 65-all. Riders then got into a hot streak of three-point shooting, with Holder again, Brandon Clark, Washington and Hampton all connecting from long range in a blistering four-minute spell where they posted 15 points.
With their defence at its best, Riders conceded only two points during that time to lead 78-67 with just under four minutes to play and from there the result was never in doubt.
Hampton led the way with 22 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists, but all five of Riders’ starters scored in double figures as they spread the offence well.
Head Coach Rob Paternostro was Happy with both his teams performance and seeing a sell out crowd at the Morningside Arena. “It was a heck of an atmosphere here tonight, coming out before the game and seeing the stands full and the energy in here certainly gave both teams a huge lift which I thought led to it being a high level game from both teams tonight”.
Rob added that he thought it was his teams defence that won them the game. “We thought we played pretty well in the first half but we knew in the second half our defence would have to step up and it did as we managed to hold them to 76 points. We also didn’t turn the ball over, 8 turnovers in the game and only 1 in the second half, for me that was what made the difference in the game”.
Riders: Hampton 22, Holder 16, Anderson 13, Williams 11, Washington 10, Clark 8, Thomson 5, Douse 1, Gamble, Ward-Hibbert, Lascelles.
Eagles: Moses 20, Kai Williams 15, Kyle Williams 13, Smith 13, Fletcher 8, Lasker 3, Defoe 2, J Williams 2, Flournoy, Matthew, Yabantu.
Manchester Giants 75 v Leicester Riders 73
BBL Championship – Sunday 17 March
Leicester Riders’ title hopes took a significant dent as they were beaten 75-73 at Manchester Giants. Riders are now two points behind the league leading London Lions, but have played two games more.
Riders had a rough shooting night, particularly from behind the arc, but still had a chance to win it on the final play.
Giants jumped out to a 12-5 lead after five points from Willie Clayton and four from Callum Jones, but Leicester posted the next nine points, mainly from the foul line, to lead 14-12.
Aside from Tim Williams, Riders were having all sorts of problems putting the ball in the basket from open play, but still led by four with four minutes to go in the first half. Clayton put the Giants ahead late in the second quarter and his score on the buzzer made it 37-32.
Riders had missed all 13 of their first half three-point attempts, but Conner Washington made one to start the second period as they quickly tied the scores. Manchester once again moved five points clear, but threes from Rema Lascelles and Washington had Leicester 56-55 ahead in the opening seconds of the final quarter.
Riders were 64-60 in front but Mike McCall hit from long range twice to top and tail a 13-4 run which had the Giants 73-68 ahead with only 100 seconds remaining. Brandon Clark, though, hit from long range and the foul line to level the game at 73-all with two plays left.
Clayton was able to tip home McCall’s miss and whilst Thomson’s three didn’t drop Riders were able to snare the offensive rebound to give them one last attempt. Clayton, though, blocked Williams’ attempt and sealed the win for Manchester.
Williams made almost half of Leicester’s shots to lead the way with 26 points and ten rebounds, but no-one else was able to consistently score to keep with him.
Giants: Clayton 25, McCall Jr 15, Butler 11, Jones 8, Granic 7, Bankevics 7, Wanliss 2, Williams, Goodall, Oldham.
Riders: Williams 26, Clark 11, Washington 10, Hampton 7, Holder 7, Douse 5, Thomson 4, Lascelles 3, Anderson, Gamble, Ward-Hibbert.
The Riders next home game is against the Cheshire Phoenix on March 29th CLICK HERE to purchase your tickets and support the Riders in another exciting BBL Championship game at the Morningside Arena.