WORCESTER Wolves reached the British Basketball League play-off semi-finals for the first time in their history with victory of London Lions.
Despite losing 88-86 in yesterday's second leg at the University Arena, Wolves' lead of 14 points following Friday's 92-78 first-leg triumph in the capital proved decisive.
Will Creekmore top-scored with 24 points in the second match, while Alex Owumi tallied 18 and Stefan Djukic 17.
Wolves led 25-19 at the end of the first quarter at the arena and were 46-38 ahead at half-time. London, for whom Joseph Ikhinmwin scored 24 points, threatened to upset the odds by winning the third quarter to draw level at 65-65 heading into the final stanza and led 76-71 with seven minutes to play.
However, Wolves fought back and, despite losing the final quarter and the game, had done enough to progress to the last four.
In Friday’s first leg at London’s Copper Box Arena, Wolves dominated early on and roared into a 35-14 first-quarter lead, only to see the gap closed to 66-63 by late in the third.
But Wolves were once more able to put their foot on the gas in the final period to secure a healthy cushion.
On Worcester’s first possession, a long-distance attempt from Creekmore went awry, but Kalil Irving was quick to grab the rebound, allowing Owumi to sink a triple.
Djukic notched Wolves’ next basket, setting off on an impressive run of first-quarter scoring. After six minutes had elapsed he had converted a further four times, helping his side surge ahead at 21-6, prompting an urgent Lions time out.
As the opening quarter wound down, Djukic had already accumulated 13 points and when Jamal Williams rose from the bench to contribute five swift points, it looked as if a rout could be on the cards.
However, Lions also had a one-quarter-wonder of their own in the form of British guard Perry Lawson.
In the opening four minutes of the second period, Lawson tallied eight points while Worcester were held to just half that total across their whole team. By half-time the visitors' lead had been pegged back to 49-39.
Just as Lawson had stepped up before the break, so did his team-mate Ikhinmwin after the interval.
Seven points from Ikhinmwin helped keep his side in touch at 56-46 and a basket from veteran forward Julius Joseph brought the deficit into single figures.
Entering the last two minutes of the third period, a Joseph three-pointer brought matters to 66-63, before a burst of scoring from Wolves’ point guard Zaire Taylor restored calm at 75-66.
Neither side was able to significantly effect the gap between the teams until the final couple of minutes.
With 90 seconds left the score stood at 88-78. Taylor sank two free throws and, on the next London possession, intercepted an errant pass. Setting off towards the hoop, he was fouled by his trailing opponent Chez Marks to gain another trip to the free throw line, where he was able to widen the Worcester lead to 92-78.
Taylor led the Wolves scoring with 22 points, followed by Owumi and Creekmore with 16 and 14 respectively.
Rod Brown top-scored for London with 23 points.