3:43pm Sunday 13th April 2014
WORCESTER Wolves defeated reigning British Basketball League champions Leicester Riders to keep hold of second place in the table.
Leicester and, to a lesser extent, Wolves experimented with their line-ups before the end-of-season play-offs.
Although Wolves’ victory was never in doubt, the display was at times disjointed with the lead stretched to 20 points before settling down to 84-76.
In Worcester’s triumph the night before at London Lions, there was a welcoming spread of scorers which carried over into their return home.
Riders’ Andrew Sullivan notched a basket in the opening minute but it was five more minutes before any of his team-mates troubled the scoreboard.
Kai Williams came off the Wolves bench to hit a three-pointer and saw elder brother Jamal do likewise to take the advantage to 15-7.
By the close of the initial quarter, the lead ballooned to 28-14 helped by two more long-distance successes for Kai Williams.
One-time Leicester point guard Zaire Taylor thrilled spectators when twirling around former back-up Connor Washington for a cheeky lay-up to open the second period.
By midway through the quarter after Wolves’ reserve guard Disraeli Lufadeju sank a confident shot from the corner, exasperated Riders’ coach Rob Paternostro called a time-out as he looked up at a 36-19 deficit.
Six points from Anthony Downing aided a revival, reducing the arrears to 40-29 by the end of the half.
However, for Worcester, of greater concern was a worrying tumble to the floor for Jamal Williams.
Unable to rise without assistance, he hobbled to the locker rooms only seconds before the interval.
Four points for Leicester’s bustling centre Rashad Hassan and five for Sullivan closed the gap to just 44-38 after four minutes of the second-half.
But business as usual was restored following outside successes for Lufadeju and forward Kalil Irving.
With Worcester big men Will Creekmore and Stefan Djukic holding sway on the inside, the advantage built back up to 63-45 entering the final 10 minutes.
With the outcome seemingly already decided, both coaches spread court time across their squads.
Although Hassan notched 16 more points, support was lacking in other areas with the game winding down to another Worcester win.
Wolves’ head coach Paul James said: “It was a strange kind of game. I’m not sure how much it mattered to Leicester with them already fixed in fourth place in the table. Having said that, I like what we’re doing right now with a nice spread of scoring.
"Zaire has got better and better as the season has gone on at distributing the ball and getting our scorers open, as well as still being able to pick up his own points.”
On Jamal Williams, James added: “He’s rolled his ankle. But, with rest and ice on it, we’re hoping he’ll have recovered in time for Wednesday’s match at Sheffield.”
Taylor led the Worcester scorers with 17 points, closely followed by Kai Williams and Creekmore with 16 and 14 respectively.
Taylor added 14 assists and Creekmore snatched 18 rebounds, while Hassan led the way for Leicester with 27 points.
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