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Ton-up London Lions sink Raiders

PUBLISHED: 08:50 06 February 2017 | UPDATED: 08:50 06 February 2017

Zaire Taylor on the attack for London Lions at Plymouth (pic Graham Hodges)

Zaire Taylor on the attack for London Lions at Plymouth (pic Graham Hodges)

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Plymouth Raiders 101 London Lions 107

Zak Wells tries to stop a Plymouth player finding a way through (pic Graham Hodges)Zak Wells tries to stop a Plymouth player finding a way through (pic Graham Hodges)

A 51-point partnership between Rashad Hassan and Alex Owumi and a double-double for Zaire Taylor saw the London Lions take a thrilling road victory in Devon last night.

The Lions made the long trip to face an in-form Plymouth having only won two of their last five games, and it didn’t look good as they struggled out of the blocks.

But a spirited performance, including a fourth quarter that saw the Lions return to their pre-Christmas best, frustrated the Raiders and saw the points head back to the capital.

A strong performance from the free-throw line also gave the Lions the edge, with the Lions making a staggering 91 per cent – or 21 of their 23 – as opposed to just 14 from 22 for Plymouth.

Kai Williams shoots for London Lions at Plymouth (pic Graham Hodges)Kai Williams shoots for London Lions at Plymouth (pic Graham Hodges)

The Lions struggled to find their form in the first quarter, with a return to the sloppy turnovers and poor shot selection that has dogged recent performances as Plymouth knocked down four shots from behind the arc and went into the first break 27-21 up.

But the visitors regrouped and came out fighting in the second quarter and, as the five-minute mark approached, a lovely Taylor assist – one of 11 in the game – to Hassan saw the Lions edge in front.

By the time Kai Williams put up a three with just over a minute and half of the quartet remaining, the Lions lead was seven.

But Plymouth came fighting back, and at the midway point it was only an Owumi three-point shot that separated the two teams.

The second half proved a cracking display of basketball from both teams and a lovely steal by Taylor – making up for a terrible pass shortly before – gave him the opportunity to drive to the basket and put the Lions back up by three with the first minute of the quarter gone.

The Lions built their advantage up again, only for a familiar pattern of opposing three-pointers to see it reduced, and the lead changed hands no fewer than 11 times in a third quarter that the Lions won by just a point.

There were some moments of lovely play, including a fake and assist from Taylor, who has been criticised of late for a lack of ball sharing, to a waiting Navid Niktash who made the lay-up.

Three-pointers from Owumi and Joe Ikhinmwin saw the Lions grow in confidence and go into the fourth quarter building a cushion that Plymouth would not recover from.

Plymouth’s job was made harder with just under four minutes to go when recent arrival Cory Dixon fouled out with 21 points on the board.

The hosts threw everything at the Lions, but to no avail as playing for fouls, they sent Owumi to the line four times and he continued with the cool shooting from the charity stripe.

With victory secured, Lions face a tough test next in the shape of league leading Leicester who are back at the Copper Box Arena on Sunday February 12 (4pm).


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