HEAD coach Paul James believes Worcester Wolves have got “momentum” going into the British Basketball League play-offs after a thrilling 80-77 win at champions Leicester Riders.

After Sheffield Sharks ended their 12-match winning streak on Friday, Wolves looked set to end the regular season with back-to-back defeats as they trailed 47-36 at the Leicester Arena on Sunday.

But they clawed their way back to lead 80-74 with 35 seconds remaining before seeing Riders’ Taylor King float in a three-pointer.

King then stepped up to the free-flow line for three fouls shots and a chance to send the contest into overtime.

But in the face of howls of derision from a large band of travelling supporters, the usually-reliable forward managed to miss all three attempts to hand Worcester victory.

James said: “It was a really great win for us.

“We wanted to go into the play-offs with momentum.

“We were all really disappointed after Friday – there was no better way to put things right than to come to the home of the league champions and turn them over.

“We had a difficult first half but turned things round after that by becoming more aggressive on defence, and moving the ball around much better on offense.”

Wolves found themselves sheltering from a hail of three-pointers as the match commenced, with Riders’ captain Tyler Bernadini and Great Britain centre Andy Thomson on target.

Maurice Walker was brought off the bench for his first action after five matches out with injury and slotted home a useful seven first-quarter points.

But three further triples from Leicester’s sharpshooters put them 26-21 ahead entering the second period.

With Wolves still struggling to make their mark, Riders’ lead accelerated into double-digits by half-time.

It was a wholly different story after the break. A mesmerising crossover dribble from Ashton Khan got the ball rolling.

Four more points from Khan, and three other Worcester men getting on the scoreboard, led to a pulsating 16-0 start to the second half and the visitors’ first advantage of the afternoon.

In an ebb and flow encounter, Leicester would regain the lead.

By midway through the final quarter Wolves again had their noses in front at 68-67.

A triple from Alex Navajas at the shot-clock buzzer, and an outrageous basket from Khan as he tumbled backwards, helped push matters out to 75-67, before Leicester’s late revival nearly stole the spoils.

Khan led the scoring with 17 points, closely followed by Trey Zeigler and Navajas with 15 and 14 points respectively.

Trevor Setty contributed double-double statistics with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Wolves finish the season with a 20-13 win-loss record and fifth place in the table, setting up a two-legged quarter-final playoff tie against Sheffield Sharks.

The first leg will take place in South Yorkshire on Friday (7.30pm), with Sharks coming to the University of Worcester Arena on Sunday (4pm) for the return leg.