by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix were eliminated from the BBL Cup following a 13-point loss against the Glasgow Rocks.
The Nix came into the fixture still missing four of their key players in Kahron Ross, Sehill Mouliom, Pharroh Gordon and Eric Hamilton, while the Rocks travelled to the EPSV with a fully-fit squad.
Mike McCall Jr rallied the troops with his 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting, however his efforts were in vain as the Phoenix trailed for the vast majority of the game.
Sol Rolls-Tyson secured his second successive double-double through his 18-point, 11 rebound performance to which he also added four assists and four steals.
The Nix obtained 17 points from the 14 turnovers they forced their opponents into, while the Rocks managed just two points from a mere seven turnovers by the hosts.
All of Glasgow’s starters found themselves in double-digit scoring, with Julius Van Sauers and Marc Kwedi leading the way with 19 apiece. The Dutchman also hauled in 11 rebounds to earn himself a double-double on the night.
The Rocks took a while to get going but eventually found their rhythm and in the end they shot 50% from the field and 41% from 3-point territory. Gareth Murray’s team out-rebounded the Nix 45-to-28 and out-assisted Ben Thomas’ side 21-to-17 on the way to their second win of the season.
Both sides had a pretty rough start to the game, as they missed six of their first eight attempts and combined for just five points inside the first two minutes. Kwedi gave the visitors a five-point advantage at the 7:31 mark, before McCall and Rolls-Tyson answered back with two crafty buckets which trimmed the deficit down to one. Cheshire played some great defense as they forced the Rocks into a shot clock violation and multiple misses, however they weren’t able to execute at the other end, as they amassed just six points with less than five minutes left in the quarter. Fraser Malcolm gave the Rocks their first double-digit lead at the 1:58 mark after knocking down a three-pointer. The Nix marginally outscored the Rocks during the last two minutes of the quarter, however they found themselves down 15-25 heading into the second stanza.
Jalen Hayes opened the second quarter with a 4-0 run of his own before Reiss Haggith sunk a three-pointer which increased Phoenix’s good stretch to 7-0. Kwedi scored Glasgow’s first points of the quarter at the 7:43 mark. All of Phoenix’s good work was outdone by Glasgow as they embarked on their own 7-0 run in which David Mpondo, Jonny Bunyan and Van Sauers all contributed. Hayes connected on a triple at the 3-minute mark, however the Nix still trailed by seven. The two sides traded baskets during the closing minutes of the half, which meant that Cheshire went into the break down 32-39.
Van Sauers opened the second half with a make from inside the paint before Rolls-Tyson replied with a bucket from three-point land. The Nix played some sumptuous team basketball, leading to a Disraeli Lufadeju and-one which reduced the deficit down to three at the 6:45 mark. Glasgow reinstated their two-possession advantage at the mid-way point of the quarter, thanks to a sublime passage of play by Kwedi. The Rocks found themselves up by double-digits yet again at the 3:30 mark, after a cool lay-up from Mpondo. Thomas’ side outscored Murray’s men 11-to-8 during the last three minutes of the quarter but still found themselves down 58-65 heading into the final frame.
The Rocks started the fourth quarter in the same way that they closed the third, with a long-range three, however this time Bunyan was the culprit. The Scottish side kept the Nix scoreless until the 6:59 mark when Hayes converted a tough turn-around jumper to bring Rocks’ lead down to 10. Lufadeju was taken out of the game after he picked up a knock in Glasgow’s paint but thankfully the point-guard returned just two minutes later. A couple of makes from the charity stripe by the Dutchman, Van Sauers, gave the Glaswegians a 16-point cushion – their then-biggest of the night – with five minutes left in the game. Cheshire tried to mount a late comeback through McCall, Rolls-Tyson and Hayes but they eventually accepted their fate and the two sides just exchanged buckets the rest of the way, allowing the Rocks to leave the EPSV victorious, 86-73.
KEY TEAM STAT: 90% FT. The Nix only missed one of their 10 attempts from the free-throw line, however they made just 41% of their shots from the field and 27% from 3-point range, while their opponents were much more accurate with their 50% FG and 41% 3PT conversion rates.