WORCESTER Wolves’ director of basketball Ty Shaw praised the fighting qualities of his short-handed roster after threatening an upset win at title-challenging Leicester Riders.

Defying the injury-enforced absence of key players Deshawn Freeman and Filip Kramer, Wolves led 78-74 before a barren final quarter saw Leicester triumph 94-86 in the British Basketball League.

“I’m really proud of the guys,” said Shaw. “To come here and battle it out despite missing two big pieces of our squad was really fantastic.

“Obviously we would have loved to have got the win.

"A couple of plays here and there, cleaning up our execution at the end and making sure we move the ball and get good shots off, if that can be our focus moving forward then this is a step in the right direction.”

Big man Lester Prosper and forward Robert Crawford dominated the Worcester scoring with both players setting out their stall from the outset.

Prosper bent down his 6 feet 10 inch frame to scoop up a loose ball and get the scoreboard ticking.

As well as thrusting to a trio of further scores he provided a clever assist for Miki Servera to convert for an early 13-12 edge.

Crawford displayed similar fire with nine first-quarter points and a 24-22 advantage entering the second period.

Even with Leicester’s bulky Pierre Hampton draped around his shoulders Prosper was able to muscle to the basket.

He then held off defenders to set a screen for Crawford to sink a three-pointer.

Crawford buried three more long-distance shots to give Worcester their largest lead of 52-43 with a minute left in the first half.

Riders put forward a strong showing either side of the interval to reduce the deficit.

Darell Combs debuted on the scoresheet to keep his side in front at 68-66 and then combined with Prosper for a powerful left-handed dunk.

But Leicester demonstrated why they have been perennial contenders for honours in the BBL to chip away and overtake their lead.

It took more than eight minutes of the final quarter for Wolves to score again from the field as their shot attempts went awry and Riders pounced on their hesitancy to round out a comeback win.

“In the last five minutes we had some guys with dead legs,” said Shaw.

“We didn’t get the ball through hands the way we did for the first 35 minutes. We needed to maintain our ball movement but unfortunately we stood around too much.”

Crawford topped the scoring with 32 points while Prosper thumped in 30 and grabbed 16 rebounds.

Combs with 10 points was the only other Worcester man to puncture double-digits.

Shaw said: “Rob stepped up big. Lester was huge in every sense of the word, he did a good job defensively, his rebounding was fantastic and he posted up really well. He was a mountain.”

Wolves face another title-challenger at second-placed Sheffield Sharks on Friday (7.30pm).

“Sheffield will be another battle,” added Shaw. “It will be tough again but we showed we can fight, be competitive and not put our heads down and quit.”