Leicester Riders 88 – 82 Plymouth Raiders

Plymouth Raiders travelled to Leicester Riders on Saturday night looking to stop the run of defeats against the current BBL champions which sat at 23 games. As the record shows, Leicester are always a hard team to beat, but the game was made even harder with the absence of starting centre Zak Wells and guard Declan Soukup.

The first quarter was an even affair with Raiders working hard on the inside whilst Leicester were scoring from beyond the arc. Four three pointers and a three-point play from the home side gave them a 15 – 11 lead after seven minutes. Raiders rallied behind six points from Joonas Jarvelainen to lead 16 – 21with 45 seconds of the opening period remaining, but a pair of free throws and a layup reduced the gap to 20 – 21 in favour of the Raiders after 10 minutes.

Raiders maintained the one-point lead at half time following a high scoring second period. Donte Nicholas had 12 of the Raiders 26 points whilst former Raider Pierre Hampton had nine for the hosts. Both sides led by as many as four in the period, but it was the visitors in front, 46 – 47 mid way through the game.

Leicester scored the opening three points of the second half inside the first minute but were then held scoreless for the next four whilst Raiders went on a 11 – 0 run to stretch their lead to nine. With the score at 56 – 64 with less than three minutes to play of the quarter, Leicester put together an 18 – 0 run, 11 points coming in the third period and seven in the fourth to open up a 10 point, 74 – 64 point lead. A Josh Wilcher three pointer halted the run and a further seven points from Wilcher tied the game at 78 each with four minutes to play. Rashad Hassan fouled out shortly after leaving Raiders with a gap in the middle, and despite the game still being tied with less than a minute remaining, Leicester were able to close the game out with a 6 – 0 run to take the victory 88 – 82.

Wilcher led the scoring with 25 whilst Donte Nicholas and Hassan both had double-double’s with 16 points and 11 rebounds and 12 points and 10 rebounds retrospectively.

Next week Raiders are on the road again against second place Sheffield Sharks on Friday night before returning home to the Plymouth Pavilions against Glasgow Rocks in the BBL Trophy the following Friday (1st February).

Paul Smith