WORCESTER Wolves had to settle for second-best as they were swept aside 104-82 by highly-touted Plymouth Raiders at the University of Worcester Arena on Friday.
A stuttering start for Wolves saw their visitors race to a 27-13 lead after the first quarter. A promising run up to half-time cut the arrears to single figures, but more lapses after the interval sealed the loss.
“It was a bad day at the office,” confessed coach Matt Newby. “We got off to a poor start while Plymouth ran up a big score.
“We managed to pull it back to an eight-point gap by half-time and were still in and around things in the third quarter. But then Plymouth broke the game open again and that was that.”
Lamarr Kimble sank a double of three-pointers in the opening two minutes but it would take another four minutes for the Wolves column on the scoresheet to change.
Wayward shooting and spells of careless ball-handling were pounced upon by Plymouth.
Normally-prolific scorer Jordan Williams wrong-footed his defender early in the second quarter for what would be his only points of the evening, while the following moments saw five swift points for ex-Worcester guard Elvisi Dusha to maximise his side’s lead at 40-18.
Maarten Bouwknecht was the catalyst for a home revival, draining triples on consecutive possessions. Brandon Anderson soon mimicked his captain’s long-range accuracy to prolong the resurgence.
Bouwknecht cleverly managed the clock to lay the ball in at the interval, closing Raiders’ advantage to 54-46.
Although an impressive nine three-pointers from a dozen attempts connected before the break, this percentage of success could not be maintained. With Plymouth players also adept at stifling any inside attacks the margin between the sides was steadily re-built.
Ten unanswered Raiders’ points to begin the final quarter confirmed their superiority at 86-62 and effectively ended the contest.
Anderson led the Worcester scoring with 18 points, supported by 17 for Bouwknecht and 15 from Kimble.
Wolves are straight back into action tonight (Saturday) at Surrey Scorchers.
“It will be a quick opportunity for us to make amends for today,” added Newby.
“But Surrey won’t make things easy for us. They’ve made some changes to their squad recently and will be a challenge we need to meet in the right way.”