Leicester Riders in big win over Surrey Heat
Leicester Riders moved back level with Newcastle Eagles at the top of the BBL Championship table after an emphatic 88-58 victory over title rivals Surrey Heat.
Last night's victory also stretched the gap between the top two and the Heat in third, leaving Surrey four points behind and having played a game more.
It was a fitting result on the night that the Jelson Homes DMU-backed Riders paraded the BBL Cup in front of their home fans and stretched their unbeaten record at John Sandford Centre to 20 games.
Riders did not shoot the ball particularly well in the opening exchanges, but their high-intensity defence more than made up for that.
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When Jay Couisnard hit one from behind the three-point line four minutes into the game, Riders were 9-0 ahead.
When Surrey finally managed to trouble the scorers, they were uncharacteristically hot from behind the arc.
Riders were leading by 10 points late in the first period, but a 12-2 run by the visitors saw them level the game.
Heat hit their fifth triple in six attempts to claim the lead for the first time at 23-22, but Riders responded quickly and were soon five points clear once again.
A tremendous fast break with intricate passing from Jorge Calvo and Connor Washington helped Riders further clear and by the interval they led 41-33.
With the Heat missing Chavis Holmes through injury, Riders' pressure was starting to take its toll. By the end of the third quarter, Leicester were starting to build a lead their dominance deserved.
Some excellent ball movement at the offensive end and tremendous swarming defence at the other, helped Leicester to a 13-3 spell late in the period to lead 62-45.
By the fourth quarter, Riders were in exhibition mode with Couisnard providing the threes and Anthony Rowe the dunks.
The passing was impressive as Leicester always looked for an open team-mate, but such has been Riders strength in defence this season, this was the fourth time they have kept a team below 60 points.
Rowe led the way with 18 points, but once again they showed their variety in scoring with five different players reaching double figures.
Riders 88: Rowe 18, Losonsky 16, Couisnard 13, Taylor 13, Anderson 11, Sullivan 6, Calvo 5, Okoro 2, Washington 2, Lamble 2
Heat 58: Joseph 15, McLemore 12, Cricelli 9, Margai 7, Holmes 6, Simek 6, Raftopoulos 3.