Lions will take a narrow lead into Sunday’s BBL Play-offs semi-final second leg at the Copper Box following Friday’s 85-83 victory at Bristol Flyers.
Isaiah Reese led the way with a 24-point, 12 assist double-double, adding six rebounds and three steals, and Nikhil Lawry’s side will now look to finish the job on Sunday.
Lorenzo Cugini drained five three-pointers on the way to a 19-point night, adding four assists, while Julian Washburn finishing with 16 points and six boards. Ryan Martin had a solid 11 points, seven rebounds and four assists, Dirk Williams continued his comeback from injury with eight points off the bench and Kylor Kelley added another seven blocks to his impressive tally.
Marcus Evans led the home side with 20 point, 11 assist double-double, adding four boards and as many steals.
Lions made a poor start as Malcolm Delpeche’s dunk capped a 10-0 start after just two and half minutes before Washburn hit a triple to get the visitors off the mark.
Matt Miller answered from downtown but Reese converted an old-fashioned three-point play and a jumper before Kelley’s dunk and a Reese triple brought Lions within two with 3:38 on the clock. Flyers replied with ten unanswered points before Bradley Kaboza hit a pair at the foul line to cut the Bristol lead to 25-15 at the first break.
That lead grew to 14 as Shane Walker and Marcus Evans scored inside the paint before Ryan Martin got Lions on the scoreboard with an and-one. That sparked Lions into life as Cugini and Martin scored from downtown and Reese converted another bonus play before Cugini’s trey made it a one point game heading into the final 100 seconds of the half.
Dirk Williams scored from downtown to give the visitors their first lead of the night with 47 first half seconds remaining before Walker’s lay-up sent the teams into the locker all square at 39.
Triples from Reese and Martin answered scores from Delpeche and Evans in what proved to be a tight third period before Cugini and Washburn also scored from downtown to put Lions 53-51 ahead with four minutes left in the quarter.
Reese hit another three-pointer to extend London’s lead to five only to see Trajon Jacob score five points in a 9-0 Flyers run before Reese’s and-one shaved Bristol’s lead to 60-59 at the final break.
That basket sparked a 13-0 run as Washburn and Williams hit treys either side of a Reese layup before Williams’ basket put the visitors 70-60 ahead with 7:39 on the clock.
Seven Evans points in an 11-0 tear saw the game swing back in Bristol’s favour as they took a one-point lead with six minutes remaining before Reese broke the run.
Back-to-back Cugkini triples gave Lions the lead again and another Washburn trey saw London go into the final three minutes 81-75 ahead.
Martin extended that lead to eight points but Evans dragged his side back into the game and Josh Rogers hit a triple to tie the game at 83 points before Washburn hit a fadeaway to give Lions a narrow lead ahead of Sunday’s second leg.