The London Lions defeated the Worcester Wolves 99-89 in the BBL Cup Quarter Final at the Copper Box London on Sunday.
League-leading London Lions entered their Cup clash with the Worcester Wolves looking to make it a perfect three wins from three meetings against the visitors.
The Lions controlled the tie on Friday, winning 71-63 despite Ladarius Tabb only playing 14 minutes. They entered Sunday’s game with captain Joe Ikhinmwin a doubt with a niggling injury.
The Wolves, have found success in the cup so far with a road victory against the London City Royals earlier in the month. Since that win, however, the Wolves have parted company with Terrel Martin-Garcia, through injury, who was pivotal to that win, just their second all season.
The Lions were at their aggressive best in the opening minutes, employing the full court press from the start. Kervin Bristol’s tenacious offensive rebounding and an inbound steal from Ladarius Tabb, coupled with great three-point shooting led the Lions into a 17-5 lead in the opening minutes.
The Lions played great basketball on both ends of the floor with intense pressure all over the court, in particular, whilst defending their basket employing a defensive scheme that sent a lot of double teams and switches with Flo Larkai anchoring the paint being a disruptive influence against the Wolves attack.
It was all Lions in the opening term, but even still the wolves were able to score 24, to go in 33-24 after ten minutes. The second quarter was more back and forth than the opening term with the Wolves establishing themselves in the contest but their shooting let them down.
The game changed with five minutes to go in the first half when Brandon Peel went down with injury sustained when a dunk attempt was blocked the Lions were clinging to a one-point lead on the wrong end of an 11-4 run before back to back buckets in the dying moments of the half restored the Lions’ advantage to 5. Peel would return in the second half, working just as hard and would finish with 24.
The third quarter was another strong one for the visitors as the Wolves once again got the score down to within a possession, but the Lions were able to rally and stretch their advantage.
Deshawn Freeman was instrumental for the Wolves as was Jordan Whelan, both scoring valuable points at in the big moments to frustrate the hosts.
Heading into the final quarter the score was 73-68 with both sides frustrated with the level of officiating as they saw it.
Combs made a strong start for the Wolves to open the quarter, driving the basket and scoring the layup but any buzz from that was extinguished as Peel went to the line to shoot two plus a technical free throw called on Wolves Captain Adam Thoseby. The Wolves tied it up for the first time since the opening tip-off, Combs once again the scorer as the Lions failed to capitalise from the line.
Immediately after parity was restored the Lions hit back to back jumpers to stretch their lead back out to four. Jordan Spencer was able to extend the lead to eight when he was fouled sending him to the line to shoot two. Whilst there the Wolves picked up two technical fouls, all drained by the Londoner.
The Lions sealed the victory with little over a minute to go with a well-worked piece of possession setting Lockhart up with an open three which the Barbados international duly dispatched.
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