Leicester Riders 66-63 Worcester Wolves

No Runner Up Place for Wolves

Last Updated: Apr 16, 2015 09:24pm
St. Clement, Worcester
By Colin Taylor
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Worcester Wolves lost out in their quest to take the runner-up in the British Basketball League after suffering an agonising last-minute 66-63 defeat at Leicester Riders on Tuesday. The hard-fought win for their Midlands rivals means Wolves can finish the regular season no higher than third-place.

Leicester came into the game in a rich vein of form, having beaten every opponent they have faced in 2015, other than table-topping Newcastle Eagles. However, buoyed by their own recent run of success, including victory over Newcastle, Worcester also had reason to feel confident.

Kalil Irving won the opening tip, going on to take his team’s first two scores. It took a couple of minutes before Tyler Bernadini got the Leicester side of the scoreboard ticking. An impressive ten-point burst from forward Jamal Williams pushed Wolves into a 21-15 lead as the close of the first quarter approached.

As the second period progressed, it was Riders who hit their stride. Robert Thurman  made a welcome return from injury to notch four points, but Wolves still trailed 35-38 going into the half-time break.

Paul Guede quietened a full-house baying crowd when sinking consecutive three-pointers as the game resumed. Stern defence would limit Leicester to just eight points over the whole of the third quarter, moving Wolves in front once more at 49-46.

By midway through the final period the visitors clung to a 55-54 advantage, before one-time Worcester centre Barry Lamble reversed the lead. Entering the last minute of the evening it was all tied up at 61-61. Coach Paul James called a time-out and, from the re-start, the ball found its way to Irving who powered it home. 

It was now the turn of Leicester’s Rob Paternostro to call for a break with just 26 seconds to go. His instructions worked a treat as the always-dangerous Bernadini made space to float in a long-distance success and snatch the victory.

James gave his view of the match’s final moments, saying: “On that last play there was a miscommunication on a defensive rotation, and Bernadini was left wide-open. Up to that point we had done really well in keeping him quiet.”

Wolves will get a quick chance to make amends when meeting Riders again this Friday, at the University of Worcester Arena (tip off 7.30pm). James expressed his keenness to have another crack at Leicester, saying: “Tonight was a ding-dong battle where they just had the run of the ball at the end. I can see Friday being just as exciting, but where we obviously want to see a different outcome.”