London Lions made it back-to-back victories as they marked Nikki Lawry’s first game as interim coach with a 92-74 win on Wednesday night.
The victory at the Copper Box saw London move up to third in the BBL Championship table, and it was Kylor Kelley who starred on the night with an incredible 16 point, 17 rebound, seven block, four assist performance.
Isaiah Reese showed he is truly back from injury with 20 points, eight assists and five rebounds while Lorenzo Cugini continued his recent good form with 17 points. Dirk Williams overcame early foul trouble to finish with 12 points while Ryan Martin came off the bench to add 11 points and captain Justin Robinson chipped in with eight.
Corey Jackson led the visitors with 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists in a losing effort.
Cugini opened the Lions scoring to tie the game but Dirk Williams picked up his second foul inside two minutes to force an early introduction of Robinson. Triples from Reese and Cugini together with a couple of Kelley blocks kept Lions in touch as Eagles started strongly.
Martin’s pair of treys dragged the hosts back within one and three respectively before a strong finish was by a lovely head-fake and lay-up from Reese to give Lions a 22-21 lead at the first break.
Robinson was on fire in the opening minutes of the second half as he hit back-to-back threes before Kelley grabbed an offensive rebound and dunked to make it a nine point game. Reese’s fadeaway beat the shot clock to give Lions a 32-25 lead and force an Eagles timeout with 6:01 on the clock.
Kelley’s dunk was followed by a inbound violation by the visitors, allowing Cugini to drain from downtown but Eagles replied with a 5-0 run of their own to force a Lions timeout with 3:45 on the clock and the hosts leading 39-33.
Reese buried a three out of the break and Martin saw a shot from downtown finally drop after both wiping its feet and cleaning its teeth on the way down before Reese hit a pair of free-throws to give Linos a 49-39 lead.
Cugini and Reese both dropped treys to open the second half, and it took some good foul shooting from veteran Londoner Darius Defoe to keep the visitors in the game.
A massive Chris Tawiah stuff followed a free-throw saw Lions go 11 up with four third period minutes remaining, and Robinson’s coast-to-coast lay-up extended that advantage to 15 with two clicks on the clock.
Dirk Williams hit his first trey of the night before Justin Gordon scored the final basket of the stanza, but it was Lions who took a 70-58 lead into the final break.
Lions again opened a quarter with a pair of triples as Reese and Dirk Williams each scored from downtown, split by a Defo drive before Williams drained another from downtown to take the lead out to 16.
Cugini – revelling in his new starting role – hit a nice floater to make it 81-63 with 6:36 on the clock to force a timeout as the Copper Box came alive.
But Kelley was on fire as he followed up his seventh block with a stuff to make it a 20-point game before Justin Gordon received a technical foul for flopping and was then ejected for arguing, and to rub salt into Eagles’ wounds Kelley hit a trey from the inbound to take the advantage out to 22 points.
The visitors never got the lead before 16 again as Lions closed out their 11th BBL Championship win of the season, and they will look to add to that tally when they face Bristol Flyers at the Copper Box on Friday.