WORCESTER Wolves’ head coach Paul James said he was pleased with his side’s character after they overcame a determined Surrey United 82-68 at the University Arena.
Last season, new franchise Surrey struggled to just a handful of wins as they found their feet in the British Basketball League, but with the addition this year of proven BBL talent in Trevor Setty and Kramer Knutson they posed much more threat in Friday’s game.
Setty and Knutson each stayed on court for the full forty minutes, accumulating nearly half of their team’s total points and rebounds, keeping United in contention.
The outcome was only decided in the last quarter of the evening when the combined efforts of Wolves’ backcourt duo of Chavis Holmes and Alex Owumi finally pushed Worcester to the victory.
It was Holmes who began the night’s scoring, with a confident cut to the basket. Owumi supplied a dead-eyed pass for Kalil Irving to double the lead. Knutson provided the visitors’ first response, while Setty grabbed their last nine points of the quarter and an early advantage at 17-20.
Centre Robert Thurman opened his account and then tipped the ball in the air for Remi Dibo to throw down. At 25-20 it initially looked as if Wolves might pull away.
However, consecutive scores from young British point guard Elvisi Dusha once more kept United in contention.
A large University Arena crowd was stunned to see Dusha fire home an optimistic shot from near midcourt as the half-time hooter sounded, bringing the contest to 40-37.
It was more of the same after the interval, with neither side able to claim clear superiority. As the third period expired it was the turn of a Wolves player to draw gasps from the spectators when Sean Park drilled a long-range effort, providing a little daylight at 59-54.
Holmes stole the ball from Setty on Surrey’s first possession of the final quarter, and next time down the court Surrey failed to get a shot away in the permitted 24 seconds.
They were punished by another Holmes score. After Setty then bizarrely failed to lay the ball into an unguarded basket, the lead had accelerated to 65-54.
While still not able to fully relax, Worcester were able to keep United sufficiently at bay for the remainder of the evening, leaving Paul James to say: “It really was a hard-fought victory.
The team had to show some character tonight. Surrey were a totally-different side from last year, making us dig deep.”
Next up will be a visit to league newcomers, the Leeds Force, on Friday.
“It’s likely to be another tough game for us at Leeds. We will have to prepare well and be ready to play hard for 40 minutes,” added James.
Holmes led the scoring with 23 points, followed by Owumi with 14 points. Both players fell just shy of a double-double of statistics, pulling down eight and nine rebounds respectively.
Wolves will return to the University of Worcester Arena on Friday, October 31 to face Bristol Flyers in the quarter-finals of the BBL Cup.