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Cheshire Phoenix 94-85 Worcester Wolves

Last Updated: Jan 11, 2016 08:52pm
St. Clement, Worcester
By Colin Taylor
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Worcester Wolves failed to follow up Saturday’s overtime win at Bristol Flyers, when dropping to an 85-94 reversal at Cheshire Phoenix the next day.

Coach Paul James had warned that his side would need to perform better than they had in Bristol, where he thought they had only sneaked the win, but another stale display was all that they could produce.

The score stayed tight for most of the afternoon, with Wolves holding a slender lead as time wound down. However, repeating a pattern seen throughout the match, twice during the last three minutes Cheshire were allowed to bully their way to offensive rebounds and subsequently convert to pull away.

Pavol Losonsky and Orlan Jackman led the Wolves’ scorers with 28 and 19 points respectively, but it was notable that the bulk of both players’ output came in a second-half where eight points from Javier Mugica and two points from Jay Couisnard were the only other scoring contributions.

A quartet of baskets for Josh Cameron were the highlight of a 19-19 first quarter. The hosts moved 25-21 ahead after Danny Huffor made the second of what would become four first-half three-pointers for the Cheshire guard.

Jackman debuted on the scoresheet in the last minute of the half and added another score to keep Worcester in touch at 43-39.

Jackman rat-a-tatted his way to three more buckets soon after the interval, then   took aim for two outside successes. Losonsky was similarly effective standing close to the hoop to rattle home thirteen third quarter points. But, worryingly, Wolves showed frailty around their own basket; on repeated occasions a Cheshire shot would go awry, only for their attackers to react the quickest in securing second opportunities.  

A Mugica triple put the visitors 72-77 to the good with seven minutes remaining. From there the lead was whittled down with Phoenix’ American pairing of Akeem Ellis and Kinu Rochford firing. A double of tip-ins for Rochford moved his side 85-82 in front and roused a large home crowd.

Ellis slotted home his own double, hammering on the floor, and then the advertising boards around the court, as both he and spectators celebrated the comeback victory. 

A disappointed Paul James said afterwards: “We paid the price for a lack of rebounding at crucial times. We forced them to miss shots but then allowed them to be first to get the ball back.”

Wolves complete a four-game road trip at Sheffield Sharks this Friday, before facing league leaders Newcastle Eagles at the University of Worcester Arena on Friday 22 January. “We are going to have to be much tougher, much more physical,” added James.

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