WORCESTER Wolves were unable to open up their 2020 BBL Championship campaign with a win, falling to a 69-60 defeat against Plymouth Raiders at the University of Worcester Arena on Friday.
Wolves began the game in positive style, pulsing to a 37-28 advantage by five minutes before half-time. However, contrastingly, they struggled to add points over the remaining 25 minutes, allowing their visitors to turn the tables.
“Plymouth made the necessary adjustments to turn the match,” admitted coach Matt Newby. “We took a lot of the right shots but particularly as the game went on they didn’t fall.
“Unfortunately four of our rotation of players were well below the mark in their field-goal percentage. We weren’t as consistent as we should have been.
“Allied to that, Raiders got 23 points from turnovers. That’s a tough statistic to take.”
Jordan Williams grabbed the opening tip-off, setting up Josh McSwiggan to immediately drain a three-pointer.
Plymouth’s pair of 6 foot 10 inch forwards, Prince Ibeh and Will Neighbour took early charge of the space next to Wolves’ basket to punch in the visitors’ initial ten points.
McSwiggan swept to three further scores as Raiders shaded a 16-15 first-quarter.
Worcester overtook and accelerated away in an electric start to the second period. Jordan Williams was left wide-open by a pinpoint pass from Matthew Bryan-Amaning, McSwiggan continued his hot hand and Micah Elan sank a triple.
When Bryan-Amaning backed down his defenders the home side’s lead maximised.
But a 9-0 Plymouth response brought the match back to the boil at 39-37. Ibeh tied the sides as the second half began and an evenly-matched third quarter ensued.
Henry Wilkins debuted on the scoresheet a couple of minutes into the final quarter to equalise matters at 53-53. However, it would take until the last minute of the evening before Wolves were able to connect again from the field.
In nearly the same time span Great Britain stalwart Ashley Hamilton powered in nine personal points to thrust Raiders to the win.
McSwiggan totalled 19 points, with all but a couple of those coming before half-time. Only Elan with 15 points also tallied double-figure scoring.
After having played four matches in the last seven days Wolves will now enjoy the luxury of a full week before their next fixture, hosting Manchester Giants at the University of Worcester Arena on Friday (December 11)
“Yes, fatigue has been an issue but no one here, players or coaches, will look at that as an excuse,” added Newby. “In this condensed season the physical attrition is there for everyone and the challenge will be how to manage it.
“Manchester are a programme on the up. They play with a lot of character and are out to prove something this season. We have to put ourselves in a position to compete with them next week.”