WORCESTER Wolves head coach Paul James has called for his side to play with more purpose and rhythm when Newcastle Eagles take to the court at the University of Worcester Arena.
Wolves welcome their North East visitors this Friday (tip-off 7.30pm) ten days after a narrow 86-83 reverse at the hands of the second-placed Eagles.
James felt his team lacked intensity at several points of the game
“We finally got going in the second half and gave ourselves a chance to win,” he said.
“But then we let them take charge at the end. When they missed consecutive shots but still grabbed the rebounds it killed off the game.
“We have to make sure that we get Dallin [Bachynski] more involved and everyone will have to play with a lot more energy.”
After a slow start, Wolves trailed 36-45 by half-time, before a rampaging third quarter closed the gap to just 66-67.
The final period was a see-saw affair and the visitors trailed 83-86 in the last minute but allowed Eagles to snatch successive offensive rebounds and dampen Worcester’s opportunity to complete a comeback.
Alex Navajas continued his tradition of dominating in the early going for Wolves, slotting home a highly-impressive five baskets in the same number of minutes.
But with scant scoring support from anywhere else his side fell 17-24 behind entering the second quarter.
New point-guard George Marshall sank a triple, then scored again after stealing the ball, levelling matters at 24-24.
Again Worcester’s offence stagnated, leaving Newcastle to accumulate a healthy interval lead.
Former Wolves stalwart Jamal Williams twice stood in the path of Dallin Bachynski, resulting in a double of offensive fouls called against the seven-footer and limiting his further involvement in the contest.
However, Worcester’s George Beamon took advantage of the increase in space close to the hoop to drive to an eye-popping 16 third-quarter points and put the match back on the boil.
With four minutes remaining, Palmer tipped in a Marshall miss to nudge Worcester 77-75 ahead. Not to be subdued, Newcastle responded with a 10-1 tear to retake the lead.
In a frantic last few seconds the ball was slung from one player to another until last-man-up Navajas was forced to heave up a desperation shot that clanged off the front of the rim.
Beamon led the scoring with 22 points. Navajas tallied a double-double of 20 points and 12 rebounds while Palmer did likewise, notching 10 points and grabbing 11 boards. Marshall contributed 15 points.