WORCESTER Wolves suffered their first defeat of the new British Basketball League (BBL) campaign at the hands of Leicester Riders 77-66 on Sunday at the Leicester Community Arena.
After falling behind early on, Wolves turned up their intensity to take a double-figure second quarter lead and kept their noses in front for a further 15 minutes, before a strong Leicester outfit eventually regained control and the victory.
Head coach Paul James said: “The final score doesn’t reflect how close the game was. We played hard and were still in the contest until the last few minutes.
“Leicester are a lot of people’s favourites for the title so this was a good test for us and we showed we’re more than competitive.
“We’re not happy losing, regardless of who might be the favourites. We’ll train hard this week and put things right.”
Wolves trailed 10-3 after three minutes with only Danny Huffor providing the points for the Worcester side and just two minutes later that deficit had increased to 17-9.
Entering the second quarter, the visitors were still trailing 23-16, but consecutive three-pointers from Huffor and Trevor Setty, as well as a two-pointer from Setty, closed the gap to 30-27.
A Leicester timeout did little to help their cause as Huffor went onto snatch the ball from the hands of guard Connor Washington and swept forward for his first of four rapid-fire baskets before the interval, helping to give his side a 42-32 lead.
Riders replied immediately in the third quarter scoring ten points in the first minute to level the scores, but Wolves held a slight 58-55 edge entering the final quarter.
The visitors lost their aggressive demeanour though, as Marek Klassen, Setty and American centre Deondre McWhorter, making his debut, found themselves just a single foul call away from disqualification.
With just three minutes remaining Worcester still clung to their hosts’ slender one point lead at 67-66, but consecutive scores for Riders forward Pierre Hampton opened a ten point surge and secured the win for Leicester.
Kennedy and Huffor led Wolves’ scoring with 18 points apiece, while Klassen supplied ten assists.
The loss comes off the back of an 88-85 victory against Cheshire Phoenix last Friday at the University of Worcester Arena.
Kennedy and Andrew Bachman led the scoring with 23 and 20 points respectively, followed by Setty with 17.
Wolves welcome Sheffield Sharks to the University of Worcester Arena this Friday (tip-off 7.30).