HIGH-FLYING Worcester Wolves will hit the court for a double-header of British Basketball League action this weekend on the back of a double-overtime thrilling 88-85 win over Bristol Flyers at the flood-surrounded University of Worcester Arena.
A trip to Newcastle to tackle the Eagles awaits the Wolfpack on Friday (tip-off 7.30pm) before they head north of the border to tackle Glasgow Rocks on Sunday (tip-off 5pm).
Victory against the Flyers cemented Wolves’ third place in the standings as Matt Newby’s men fought off a ferocious comeback in last Friday’s meeting of the foes who clashed in the BBL Cup final earlier this season.
Wolves looked to be coasting to a straightforward win with a 53-37 second-half lead before Bristol rose from the floor to force a 70-70 tie and extra time.
The visitors’ resurgence carried them 79-75 ahead with just 18 seconds to go until late buckets from Worcester’s American pairing of Mark Hughes and Cortez Edwards dragged the match into a second overtime period at 80-80.
The decisive point came in the last couple of minutes when Wolves captain Maarten Bouwknecht was bundled to the ground as he drove to the basket, resulting in an unsportsmanlike foul called against Flyers. Two free-throws made and retaining possession put the hosts 85-82 to the good.
With half a minute left Hughes sank a dagger three-pointer to establish daylight. Bristol quickly replied in kind but, despite a series of frantic scrambles as players wilted from exhaustion, could not get a further shot to connect, leaving Worcester to celebrate an 88-85 success.
Wolves’ 45-33 half-time lead had become more comfortable once Bristol’s dangerous forward Daniel Edozie was benched after committing his fourth foul.
Edwards delighted spectators with an alley-oop throwdown from a crafty Bouwknecht assist as Wolves maximised their second-half advantage.
A spell of careless ball-handling, however, reduced the lead to 58-51 entering the fourth quarter. A slowing in Worcester’s attacks encouraged Bristol.
Referees contributed to the Flyers’ fightback when they adjudged Hughes to have ‘flopped’ in defence, penalising him with a technical foul, and moments later whistled him for an offensive charge at the other end of the court.
Bristol’s newly-arrived guard Eric Lockett gave his side a 70-69 edge before Amir Williams split a pair of free-throws to send the contest into the subsequent overtime dramas
Hughes led the scoring for Worcester with 20 points. Julius Van Sauers posted 15 points while Edwards and Jordan Williams tallied 14 apiece.
After their marathon away trips this weekend, Wolves return to the University of Worcester Arena for the visit of Sheffield Sharks next Friday (March 13).