THE PETROL gauge finally showed empty for Worcester Wolves as they to succumbed to a 76-72 defeat at Surrey Scorchers.
On Friday Wolves led Plymouth Raiders until they wilted in the later stages and it was a similar story in the second match of a challenging doubleheader as fatigue took its toll.
Already missing Jordan Williams due to injury, Worcester suffered a further height disadvantage when Daniel Johnson-Thompson had to withdraw shortly after half-time when falling heavily to the floor clutching his right leg.
Plymouth and Surrey now progress to the BBL Cup quarter-finals, leaving Wolves and Bristol Flyers to duke it out for the last qualifying spot at the University of Worcester Arena this Wednesday.
“Our players gave a strong performance today but we maybe didn’t have the legs at the end and maybe some of our decision-making wasn’t as strong as it could have been,” admitted Wolves’ coach Matt Newby.
“It’s been a physical weekend, with a number of injuries, but ultimately we stayed with Surrey and our players gave their best efforts in the circumstances.”
Scorchers were slow out of the blocks, giving up a backcourt violation on their first possession and a travelling turnover on their second. Just three minutes of the evening had elapsed when they called for a break in play with their opponents 8-1 ahead.
Though recovering to restrict Wolves’ advantage to 17-15 entering the second quarter they were again in trouble when Tola Okiki jumped off the bench to float home a double of three-pointers in less than a minute.
Josh McSwiggan also succeeded from outside the arc and Micah Elan opened his account for a swaggering 34-21 lead.
Surrey hit seven unanswered points to close the first half before Worcester bounced back ahead at 40-30 at the moment Johnson-Thompson left the court.
Matthew Bryan-Amaning battled to the fore with a series of big man power moves for ten third-quarter points to keep his side 50-45 to the good.
However, Wolves’ hold on the lead diminished as their resources dwindled. Henry Wilkins slotted in a triple but then committed his fourth and fifth fouls in quick succession to leave the action with the combatants tied at 58-58 with six minutes remaining.
Bryan-Amaning spread-eagled his defender to keep a 64-62 edge with four minutes to go but this would be the last increase to the away team’s side of the scoreboard until the final minute.
Fouls from McSwiggan added him to the list of players no longer able to participate in the contest and Scorchers’ superior numbers allowed them to overtake to victory.
Bryan-Amaning led all scorers with 26 points, as well as grabbing 11 rebounds. Maarten Bouwknecht toiled throughout in his playmaking duties to provide nine assists alongside his 16 points while Okiki contributed 11 points.
Wolves won last weekend’s away tie at Bristol Flyers 69-64 meaning that the minimum requirement from Wednesday’s return leg, in order to reach the quarter finals, will be a defeat by a lesser margin. The match tips off at 7pm and will be streamed live and for free on Worcester Wolves YouTube channel.
“In my opinion Bristol will be our hardest game of the season so far. They are certainly a competitive and physical team,” added Newby.
“Jordan Williams has ligament damage after tangling hands with Will Neighbour against Plymouth, hyper-extending his thumb, while Daniel looks to have anterior ligament damage after today. We’ll get further medical assessments and see where we are with both of them.
“But we’ll do our best to manage our roster and our rotations to get the most we can from Wednesday.