WORCESTER Wolves saw off the challenge of Durham Wildcats at the University Arena to stay top of the British Basketball League.
However, this latest success was never quite as comfortable as the score-line might suggest, with Durham keeping up with Worcester for several spells of the match.
They benefitted from their hosts’ inconsistent outside shooting and frequent failure to take care of the ball.
Wolves head coach Paul James said: “We didn’t move the ball well, we didn’t always execute our plays well enough and we were often static on offence. It wasn’t a great performance, but we just did enough to get the win we wanted.
“We won a game we were expected to win. We’re still top of the league, so all in all we should be thankful.”
Wildcats raced into a 7-2 lead, including five points from American guard Danny Huffor, and it took until the sixth minute before Wolves edged in front after centre Will Creekmore sank his fourth basket.
Kai Williams entered the fray and floated home a three-pointer with his first touch, extending the advantage to 15-12.
After an even 19-19 first period, the teams were still tied at 21-21 in the second minute of the next quarter following another Huffor conversion.
From here Worcester were finally able to wriggle clear of their opponents, restricting them to a meagre nine points for the rest of the half.
In the meantime, Creekmore and captain Alex Owumi were the main contributors to keeping the Wolves side of the scoreboard ticking over.
Prior to the game, point guard Zaire Taylor was presented with a golden match ball as the BBL player-of-the-month for December.
It was fitting that he demonstrated one of the strengths that secured him that honour when galloping the length of the court for a lay-up just before the half-time buzzer sounded, putting his side 45-30 to the good.
Taylor was again the man in the right place as the second-half began, snatching the ball at mid-court from Durham’s young English forward Odiba Attah and racing forward to score. Another Taylor basket saw the Worcester advantage peak at 55-31 with four minutes remaining in the third quarter.
A large home crowd applauded the return to action of Jamal Williams after a lengthy lay-off with a leg injury.
Although only seeing a few moments on court, his cameo was notable for being spent alongside his younger brother Kai in a historic first for the players and the club.
Entering the last quarter with a healthy 64-45 lead, James initially gave opportunities for his bench players to show their mettle, with Owumi the only starter remaining.
With Huffor in particular still irritatingly popping up with scores, James recalled his senior men to quell the resistance.
As time wound down there was another burst of entertainment from Taylor.
He firstly tormented his opposite number Devin Ginty into a turnover and lofted the ball for Creekmore to slam home, before freezing Durham defenders as he spun among them and conjured the ball into the net.
Owumi top-scored for Wolves with 27 points, with Creekmore achieving yet another double-double of 21 points and 14 rebounds. Huffor led the way for Durham with 20 points.