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Wolves Survive Last Second Drama

Worcester Wolves 86-85 Plymouth Raiders

Last Updated: Mar 9, 2015 04:25pm
St. Clement, Worcester
By Colin Taylor
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Worcester Wolves had to survive last-second drama on Friday to edge past Plymouth Raiders 86-85 and maintain second place in the British Basketball League.

Wolves came into the evening on the back of a comprehensive defeat of Sheffield Sharks the week before, but found themselves embroiled in a much tighter contest this time around. 

In front 85-80 with 28 seconds to go ought to have been sufficient, but baskets for Raiders’ Jordan Clarke and Brent Benson pulled their side back to 86-85 with just five seconds remaining. Even then Worcester had possession and should have seen out the clock. However, Jamal Williams was penalised for pushing off against Pierre Hampton, gifting the ball back. From the inbound a melee of players scrambled on the floor, harrying Hampton into hurling up a desperate shot that just fell short.

Wolves’ coach Paul James exhaled at the final buzzer to say: “It shouldn’t have been that close at the end. We had a comfortable cushion with less than half-a-minute left, but somehow contrived to almost give away the win. Plymouth are a potential banana skin for any opponent, so I’m certainly relieved we managed to hold on.”

The fast-starting Hampton got five of his game-high 27 points in the first two plays, before Wolves caught up with replies from Williams and from Robert Thurman. Newly-arrived guard Robertas Bitinas dazzled onlookers with a confident solo dribble and lay-up to leave the scores at 19-21 approaching the end of the first quarter.

The match remained tight at 45-48 with under a minute until half-time. Captain Alex Owumi incurred a technical foul for questioning an official’s decision, leading Raiders to notch the half’s last six points.

A different Worcester side emerged from the locker rooms, with unanswered triples for Owumi and for Paul Guede lighting up the scoreboard. A 23-11 burst saw Wolves move ahead at 68-65 entering the last ten minutes. 

With Thurman and Williams asserting their dominance around both baskets, and Guede stroking home more outside successes, the sides drew apart until they were dramatically brought back together for the night’s thrilling finale.

Thurman registered a double-double of statistics with 22 points and ten rebounds, as did Williams, with 15 points and 16 rebounds. Chavis Holmes and Guede bolstered the scoring with 16 and 15 points respectively.

Bitinas impressed on his debut, leading James to comment: “Point guard is the hardest position to pick up in a hurry. You have to learn the plays and learn where players like to receive the ball. Robertas is a quick learner and is only going to get better over time. He did well tonight.”

Wolves will look to complete a hat-trick of wins at the University of Worcester Arena when they host Durham Wildcats next Friday. “Durham will be a great opportunity for us to cement where we are in the table,” added James.

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