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Wolves Still Pushing for League Title

Worcester Wolves 96-86 Plymouth Raiders

Last Updated: Mar 23, 2014 05:40pm
St. Clement, Worcester
By Colin Taylor
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Worcester Wolves maintained their push for the British Basketball League title after overcoming a surprisingly pesky Plymouth University Raiders side at the University of Worcester Arena on Friday.

The week and a half layoff since the Wolves downed Sheffield to make it through to the BBL Trophy Final at the end of this month seemed to be a factor in interrupting the host’s usual polished play and allowing Raiders to stay in the contest. It took until a few minutes before half time for Wolves to finally take a lead and, although they stayed in front thereafter, they never looked entirely comfortable on the way to the 96-86 victory.

After the opening five minutes Worcester trailed 7-13, with club captain Alex Owumi the only person to have troubled the home side of the scoreboard. In the meantime, Great Britain forward Nick George had been quick to show the skills that had earned him an international call up, contributing five points towards his side’s total, as well as setting up several scores for his team mates.

Will Creekmore tallied Wolves’ next three baskets and, after point guard Zaire Taylor made a couple of free throws, the teams were level at 15-15. However, the last eight points of the initial quarter all went the way of Plymouth as they once more eased away.

Creekmore was again the pivotal figure as the second period opened, hitting a trio of buckets to bring matters to 21-23. It was from this juncture that the game was transformed, as Worcester’s scoring baton was passed over to Taylor who set off on a staccato burst of action. Two run-of-the-mill baskets were followed by the interception of an errant Raiders’ pass, racing down court to score, tying the evening at 32-32. On the next play he placed the ball in the hands of a grateful Creekmore, who edged the Wolves in front.

Plymouth managed just seven points in the remaining four minutes before the interval, while Worcester were able to double that output. Two-pointer, three-pointer, two-pointer was the next stat-line for Taylor, who rounded off the symmetry nicely with a three and a two to end the half, taking his team to 48-39 and his personal total in the second quarter to a remarkable 18 points.

By midway through the third quarter the advantage had been extended to 67-50, prompting angry Raiders’ coach Jay Marriot to call for a time-out. Although his charges were briefly successful in employing a full-court press to stem the offensive tide, the tactic was soon sidestepped by Owumi who firstly floated home a triple, and then bulleted a pass for forward Stefan Djukic to slam through the hoop.

Holding a healthy 79-60 cushion going into the final ten minutes, Worcester coach Paul James began to give more time to his bench players. Consecutive long-range successes for Plymouth’s young British guard Louis Sayers and one from his backcourt partner Sam Martin, threatened a Raiders’ revival at 87-76, forcing James to recall his starters. With Creekmore dictating matters close to both baskets, steadily racking up a game-high 37 points, there was enough left in the tank for Worcester to dampen the resurgence and see out the win.

Though pleased to take the victory, James was not entirely satisfied with his side’s display, saying: “We had a chance to blow Plymouth away, but we stopped moving the ball and got into a bit of showboating. Obviously I’m glad we won, but I wasn’t happy with the performance at all.”

Looking ahead to next week’s massive double of matches for the club, with the visit of title-challenging Sheffield Sharks on Friday and the BBL Trophy Final against Glasgow Rocks on Sunday, James was optimistic that any deficiencies would be remedied, adding: “We were without a game last weekend, and we often come back sloppy after a lay off. We will be better next week that’s for sure.”

After Creekmore, Wolves’ next-highest scorers were Taylor and Owumi, with 25 and 19 points respectively. George led the way for Plymouth with 21 points.

Supporters wishing to take advantage of a combined coach travel/match ticket deal for the trip to Glasgow to see Worcester take their place in the BBL Trophy Final can visit the club website/Facebook for more information. 

British Basketball League

 

 

 

Standings as at Friday 21-March-14

 

 

Played

Win

Loss

Points

1.     Esh Group Eagles Newcastle

27

22

5

44

2.     Worcester Wolves

25

21

4

42

3.     One Health Sharks Sheffield

24

19

5

38

4.     Leicester Riders

26

18

8

36

5.     London Lions

27

15

12

30

6.     Cheshire Phoenix

26

14

12

28

7.     Durham Wildcats

27

12

15

24

8.     Plymouth University Raiders

28

12

16

24

9.     Glasgow Rocks

25

10

15

20

10.   Manchester Giants

26

10

16

20

11.   Surrey United

25

4

21

8

12.   Birmingham Knights

28

0

28

0

 

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