London Lions spoil Leicester Riders’ cup celebrations with vital league win
PUBLISHED: 06:00 19 January 2014 | UPDATED: 10:31 19 January 2014
BBL Championship: Leicester Riders 73 London Lions 78
London Lions continued their perfect start to 2014 with one of their most important victories this term as they beat newly crowned British Basketball League Cup winners Leicester Riders 78-73 on the road.
Lions had not overcome defending BBL champions Leicester in nine previous attempts, while Riders - who sit second in the table - had extended their winning run to six games with last week’s showpiece final triumph against Newcastle Eagles.
Yet London, whose 4/4 record away from their Copper Box fortress needed improving, made the hosts pay for their mistakes, converting 23 points from 21 turnovers.
The victory was a third on the spin for the fifth placed Lions and closes the gap between them and Riders to two points, though the champions have played a two games less.
Leicester started the game well and took an early 11-2 lead but, despite a poor start, Lions quickly caught up behind Rod Brown’s leadership, tying the game at 25-25 before momentarily taking the lead.
Riders did have the lead for the majority of the second quarter, but Brown’s three-pointer late in the second period allowed Lions to go into the halftime break with a 46-45 edge.
Neither side led by more than three points in the second half until the 1:27 mark in the final period, when Joe Ikhinmwin increased Lions’ advantage to 73-69 after an and-one play.
The London side had a 75-70 lead with 45 seconds left, but a quick triple by Harrison Gamble made it a one-possession game with plenty of time on the clock.
Despite getting Adrien Sturt to miss one free-throw, Riders couldn’t make use of the opportunity, as both Jay Couisnard’s and Jorge Calvo’s three-pointers didn’t reach the target.
Brown had a game-high 23 points and eight assists for Lions, Sturt had 18 points, while Kramer Knutson added 12 points, seven boards and two blocks.