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London Lions spoil Leicester Riders’ cup celebrations with vital league win

London Lions playmaker Rod Brown. Photo: Matt Gilley London Lions playmaker Rod Brown. Photo: Matt Gilley

Sunday, January 19, 2014
6:00 AM

BBL Championship: Leicester Riders 73 London Lions 78

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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.

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