Worcester Wolves 96 Plymouth Raiders 86

(4801742)

(4801742)

First published in Sport
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WORCESTER Wolves maintained their push for the British Basketball League title after overcoming a surprisingly pesky Plymouth University Raiders side at the University Arena.

The nine-day break since reaching the BBL Trophy final seemed to be a factor in interrupting the hosts' usual polished play and allowing Raiders to stay in the contest.

It took until a few minutes before half-time for Wolves to finally take a lead and, although they stayed in front thereafter, they never looked entirely comfortable on the way to victory.

Will Creekmore led the way with a 37-point haul, followed by Zaire Taylor and Alex Owumi with 25 and 19 respectively. Nick George hit 21 for Plymouth.

Director of basketball Paul James was pleased to win but criticised his players for taking their eye off the ball.

He said: “We had a chance to blow Plymouth away, but we stopped moving the ball and got into a bit of showboating.

"Obviously I’m glad we won, but I wasn’t happy with the performance at all.”

Worcester trailed 13-7 after five minutes, with captain Owumi the only person to have troubled the home side of the scoreboard.

In the meantime, Great Britain forward George showed the skills that had earned him an international call-up, contributing five points as well as setting up several scores for his team-mates.

Creekmore tallied Wolves’ next three baskets and, after point guard Taylor made a couple of free throws, the teams were level at 15-15.

However, the last eight points of the initial quarter went the way of Plymouth as they once more eased away.

Creekmore was again the pivotal figure as the second period opened, hitting a trio of baskets to bring arreras to 23-21.

It was from this juncture that the game was transformed as Worcester’s scoring baton was passed over to Taylor who set off on a burst of action.

Two run-of-the-mill baskets were followed by the interception of an errant Raiders’ pass, racing down court to score and tying the match at 32-32.

On the next play he placed the ball in the hands of a grateful Creekmore, who edged Wolves in front.

Plymouth managed just seven points in the remaining four minutes before the interval, while Worcester were able to double that output.

Taylor kept his prowess to put his team 48-39 ahead and take his personal total for the second quarter to a remarkable 18 points.

By midway through the third quarter, the advantage had been extended to 67-50, prompting angry Raiders’ coach Jay Marriot to call for a time-out.

Although his charges were briefly successful in employing a full-court press to stem the offensive tide, the tactic was soon sidestepped by Owumi. He firstly floated home a triple, and then bulleted a pass for forward Stefan Djukic to slam through the hoop.

Holding a healthy 79-60 cushion going into the final 10 minutes, Worcester coach James began to give more time to his bench players.

Consecutive long-range successes for Plymouth’s young British guard Louis Sayers and one from his backcourt partner Sam Martin threatened a Raiders revival at 87-76, forcing James to recall his starters.

With Creekmore dictating matters close to both baskets, there was enough left in the tank for Worcester to halt the resurgence and see out the win.

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