Dirk Williams’ 21 points weren’t enough to prevent Lions’ title hopes take a knock with an 83-76 home loss against Sheffield Sharks, on Sunday.
Williams hit four three pointers and came up with tree steals in 35 minutes of action, while captain Justin Robinson’s comeback from injury continued with a 12 point haul, adding five assists but the home side clearly missed injured guard Isaiah Reese.
Julian Washburn and Will Neighbour each added ten points, with the former pulling down six boards, while Lorenzo Cugini chipped in with nine points. Kipper Nichols led Sharks with 21 points and six rebounds.
Washburn and Ryan Martin both scored to give Lions an early 4-0 lead, and a Williams triple followed by a dunk saw the hosts go 13-8 after just over four minutes. Further triples from Williams and Neighbour maintained Lions’ lead but five straight Johnson points saw Sharks finish the first period strongly to cut the hosts’ lead to 25-24.
Williams scored Lions’ first five points of the second quarter but Koch’s lay-up gave the visitors their first lead of the game with 7:31 on the clock. Although Washburn and Robinson both drained from downtown there was little to choose between the teams before Sharks again finished the period strongly as five points from veteran Mike Tuck saw them take a 43-39 lead into the locker room at half-time.
Washburn’s triple and back-to-back treys from Robinson saw Lions take a 48-47lead after three minutes of second half action and neither side were able to stretch the lead above four as long range shots from Neighbour and Cugini kept Lions in touch as Sharks took a 64-60 lead into the final break.
A three-point play from Kylor Kelley cut the deficit to one with the fourth period’s first basket before Johnson and Robinson exchanges threes. Sharks still led by a single point heading into the final five minutes before the decisive 7-0 Sheffield run was sparked by five Nichols points.
A pair of Kelley lay-ups broke the run and made it a four point game heading into the final two minutes, only to see Rodney Glasgow reply with a jump shot.
Williams buried his fourth triple of the game to halve the lead and then converted the free-throw after being clattered by Ratinho but that was the last time Lions scored as Wallace hit a jump shot and then converted a pair of free-throws to seal the win.