WORCESTER Wolves have to settle for a 1-1 start in their BBL Cup qualifying group after suffering a 96-60 beating at Plymouth Raiders on Sunday.
Having edged past Surrey Scorchers in a nail-biter the day before, Wolves’ coach Matt Newby acknowledged that his team had to take their licks against a better-rested opponent.
“It’s clear that the Surrey game took a lot out of us, but that’s not an excuse – we need to find a way to squeeze out every ounce of energy,” said Newby.
“Unfortunately there were a lot of loose ball situations today where we were second-best and the foul count was low which shows we just weren’t physical enough.
“Plymouth did a good job on us, packing the paint and daring us to shoot. We didn’t capitalise and that made their players more confident in their offense.”
Only Jordan Williams with 23 points and Matthew Bryan-Amaning with 14 were able to make any significant impact on Worcester’s side of the scoresheet. Josh McSwiggan and Maarten Bouwknecht poured in 30 points in Saturday’s win but were both held pointless in Plymouth.
The opening quarter set the tone for Wolves’ offensive struggles with a scoop from Bryan-Amaning being their sole score from the field out of a dozen attempts as Raiders moved 16-9 ahead.
Plymouth upped their control in the second quarter, dominating play around both baskets. Great Britain star Ashley Hamilton twice missed the second of pairs of free throws and twice his teammates were first off the mark to grab offensive boards and set up second-chance points.
By half-time Raiders led 41-26 on the scoreboard and held sway 29-11 on the rebound count.
Williams toiled to ten third quarter points and combined well with Tola Okiki who notched a quick seven of his own.
But Wolves continued to be rattled by Plymouth pressure with the usually-reliable Bouwknecht turning the ball over on successive plays before being replaced by Okiki.
Raiders entered the last period 67-45 to the good. Former Worcester guard Elvisi Dusha delighted in providing a lob for 6 foot 11 inch Prince Ibeh to throw down and then sank a corner triple to ice his performance and finalise his side’s victory.
Wolves’ next outing will be a visit to Bristol Flyers this Saturday (November 21) at 7pm.
“We were outfought today but it’s not just about effort, it’s about being in the right place and defending harder and smarter,” said Newby.
“Bristol are one of the best offensive rebounding teams. It’s a glaring fact that’s not being overlooked that we were severely out-rebounded today.”