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Worcester Wolves 70-75 London Lions

Last Updated: Dec 23, 2014 05:47pm
St. Clement, Worcester
By Colin Taylor
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Despite being without key big man Robert Thurman through injury, Worcester Wolves came close to upsetting a star-studded London Lions at the University of Worcester Arena on Friday. 

At several junctures Lions moved into double-digit leads but Wolves doggedly refused to lie down, even giving themselves a sniff of an unlikely victory in the final few minutes.

Last year’s Wolves’ player-of-the-season Zaire Taylor marked his return to Worcester by scoring the opening basket of the evening for his new employers. With Wolves already trailing 13-19 approaching the last couple of minutes of the first quarter, space was given for Great Britain Captain Andrew Sullivan to drain a long-range shot. Forward Jamal Williams immediately replied, but could only watch as Sullivan sank two further triples to extend the Lions’ lead to 20-30.

Taylor missed a jump shot at the beginning of the second quarter, but another former Worcester player, 6 foot 10 inch Ian Salter, was on hand to tip in the miss. A three-pointer at the half-time buzzer from Alex Owumi kept the hosts in contention at 35-43.

Commencing the second-half, it was Taylor who again featured in the opening possession of a period, drawing howls of derision when his shot attempt dropped several feet short of the hoop. A heavily-strapped Kaili Irving was bang on the mark to reduce the deficit.

Four minutes of the half had elapsed before London could score from the field. In the meantime, Worcester had crept back to 47-48. Williams then produced a dazzling spin move to nudge his side in front. Unsettled, the visitors gave up the ball when unable to get a shot away in the permitted 24 seconds.  However calm, and a 54-59 advantage, was restored entering the final period, aided by a couple of scores for London forward Lovell Cook.

Worcester were kept at bay until reserve guard Sean Park finally opened his scoring account with a triple. Owumi did likewise and suddenly the teams were level at 66-66 with four minutes remaining. Chavis Holmes connected and Wolves were once more ahead. But the hosts were unable to maintain the momentum, allowing London to peck their way to the 70-75 away victory.

Holmes and Owumi led the Worcester scoring with 19 and 15 points respectively, supported by 12 points from Williams.  

Coach Paul James gave credit to his players for their display, saying: “It was a gutsy performance. We didn’t win, but the effort was there. We showed some belief and stayed in the game.”  

Next up is a visit on Tuesday to Leicester Riders. After that the Wolves will return to the University of Worcester Arena for a post-Xmas match with Leeds Force on Sunday 28 December, tipping off at 3pm. 

Looking at Thurman’s injury, James added: “Robert is 50/50 to return for Leicester, but we don’t want to worsen matters by rushing him back. We’ll assess the situation as the week goes on.”

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