London Lions
Leicester Riders

A disastrous fourth period saw Lions go down 80-67 against Leicester Riders at the Copper Box, on Friday evening.

The Riders scored 18 unanswered points in a nine-and-a-half minute spell across the third and fourth quarters to maintain their unbeaten start to the league season and inflict London’s third BBL Championship defeat of the campaign.

Dirk Williams led the Lions with 16 points, while Lorenzo Cugini hit five of his eight three-pointers to finish with 15 points, but went scoreless in the second half. Julian Washburn finished with a 12 point, 13 rebound double-double, while Isaiah Reese and Chris Tawiah each added eight points, and there was a return to action for Josh Ward-Hibbert for a depleted Lions’ team.

Mo Walker played a significant part off the bench and was one player London particularly found difficult to deal with, as he dropped 16 points and pulled down 12 rebounds, while Patrick Whelan lead scoring in the game with 17.

Washburn’s dunk got Lions off the mark and he sunk a triple to keep them ahead in a tight first period before Williams’ trey gave the homeside a 19-18 lead with three minutes left in the quarter.

Will Neighbour landed a hook shot followed by a three, and it was Williams who drained from downtown to give Lions a 26-22 lead at the firstbreak.

Kylor Kelley’s and-one saw James Vear’s team extend their lead early in the second period before Cugini got hot with four triples split by a Reese three to send Lions into locker room 48-46 ahead.

Tawiah dunked to open the second half, and back-to-back Williams baskets kept the home team ahead before Washburn’s triple made it 59-56with 3:34 remaining in the third period.

Washburn’s step back jumper put Lions 61-60 ahead and Tawiah made it a 63-60 game with 51 third quarter seconds remaining but that proved tobe the last time the home team scored for more than nine minutes as Lions were called for two technical fouls as the hosts scored six straight points at the foul line to close out the third period with a 66-63 lead.

It took almost three fourth minutes before the score changed, Riders’ Adekora draining a three and they slowly built their lead as Lions went cold on the offensive end.

Whelan’s triple effectively ended the game as Riders led 78-63 with 3:01 on the clock and although Tawhai’s dunk with 91 seconds on the clock ended the drought it was too late to prevent Leicester taking what could prove to be a crucial victory.

Coach Vear wasn’t happy with his side’s performance:

“The fourth quarter wasn’t acceptable for us” he said. “We went away from what we did well and played a bit of hero ball. We didn’t move the ball enough that effected our defence. We need to be much better, Leicester are the best team in the league at the moment and we’re not there yet. Our job is to catch them up and peak in March and April.”