Worcester Wolves extended their unbeaten National Basketball League record to ten matches after a hard-fought clash against title-challengers Team Wolverhampton on Saturday.

Wolves toiled to a 39-28 lead after three quarters of action at the University of Worcester Arena. Their visitors dragged matters back to a 43-43 tie with four minutes remaining before being kept scoreless as the home side pushed to a 50-43 success.

“We really had to fight to get it done today,” admitted Worcester coach Dean Blake. “No one is going to give us things easy, especially not the second-placed team in the table.Wolverhampton came right back at us towards the end but we changed things around on defence which threw them off their rhythm and set us up to score at the other end. It’s great that we’re still unbeaten but I know that our games won’t always be pretty.”

The gritty nature of the evening was set with a low-scoring 13-9 first quarter. Ian Vivero-Rodriguez connected with a three-pointer and then curled the ball into the basket from an Austin Payne assist to widen the advantage to 18-11 by midway through the second period. Payne got in the way of Wolverhampton’s last attack of the first half to send the hosts to the locker rooms 23-18 to the good.

Wilfrid Santhe dribbled to his own score and handed off to Tom Grayling on his next possession for a two-handed dunk and Wolves’ first double-digit lead at 36-25. Lucas McGregor jumped into the spotlight when converting bonus free throws on successive offenses.

Wolverhampton took the upper hand as the fourth quarter progressed, drawing the match even until Vivero-Rodriguez broke the deadlock with two minutes to go. McGregor shimmied from side to side to put his opponents on skates as he pulled up to sink a dizzying triple. When Vivero-Rodriguez spied Payne unmarked beneath the hoop the victory was secured.