WORCESTER Wolves’ pathway to their first piece silverware since 2014 took a setback after suffering a 96-78 defeat to Plymouth Raiders in the first-leg of the BBL Trophy semi-final at Plymouth Pavilions last night (Wednesday).
Head coach Paul James admitted his side now face a ‘mountain to climb’ if they are to overturn the 18-point deficit in the return-leg at the University of Worcester Arena on Friday, February 24.
“It was a sloppy display. Plymouth were on fire, but even if they missed we allowed them far too often to get the rebound and have a second go,” said James
“They had 19 second-chance points and we turned the ball over 21 times. There’s no hope of winning if you give up those sort of numbers. We’re not going to concede the tie, but we now have a mountain to climb in the second-leg,” he added.
In a competitive first-quarter, Jermel Kennedy delivered an emphatic one-handed slam after he had jabbed the ball out of the hands of a Plymouth attacker.
But a double of scores from Raiders’ reserve forward John Barber tied the sides at 18-18 entering the second period.
Four minutes before half-time, the match was still all-square at 28-28, before Wolves suffered their first breakdown of the evening.
A 24-second shot-clock violation was followed by a trio of turnovers, allowing Plymouth to jump to a 39-30 interval advantage.
Though unable to narrow the gap, Worcester stabilised enough to keep matters competitive at 69-58 by the end of the third-quarter.
Ashton Khan sank a triple in the first minute of the final period, but it would be another four minutes before the visitors would again trouble the scoreboard as more turnovers and further failures to get shots away in a timely fashion ensued.
A series of Plymouth three-pointers added salt to Worcester’s already seeping wounds, before six points from lively centre Cory Dixon made sure his side would take a healthy 18-point advantage into the second-leg in a fortnight’s time.
Wolves return to British Basketball League action this Friday when they take on Manchester Giants at the University of Worcester Arena (tip off 7.30pm).