by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix suffered a heart-breaking defeat at the University of Worcester Arena, as Micah Elan’s buzzer-beater helped the Wolves obtain a 73-71 victory.
The Nix trailed by 15 with 5:48 left in the game, but a late surge, led by Phoenix’s floor-general, Kahron Ross, found the two sides tied at 71-71 with two seconds on the clock. Elan executed the last play of the game to perfection and knocked down his first shot of the night to upset the Phoenix.
Cheshire’s regular season record now stands at 2-6.
Ross played all 40 minutes and tallied 18 points (8-17 FG) and eight assists. Jimbo Lull added 16 points (6-12 FG) and 13 rebounds, however he fouled out of the game with two minutes left in the final frame.
Pharroh Gordon returned from injury, however he failed to impress, as he went scoreless and had a game-low -15 plus/minus in 20 minutes of play.
Jordan Williams paved the way with a game-high 24 points on 66% shooting, while Mike Parks Jr (10), KJ Lawson (11) and Brandon Anderson (10) also found themselves in double-digit scoring.
Matt Newby’s men assisted on 22 of their 29 makes from the field, as they converted 46% of their attempts, while the Nix managed to drain just 40% of their attempts from the field and 5% from three-point range (1-18 3PT).
Cheshire kept their opponents scoreless in the opening couple of minutes of the game while Lull and Mike McCall Jr added four points on the board. Lawson opened Worcester’s account with a long two-pointer at the 7:21 mark before Williams drew his team level after he converted a strong drive to the basket. Williams’ make from the stripe capped off a 7-0 run by the hosts before Sehill Mouliom and Jalen Hayes replied with back-to-back baskets to put the Nix in front by one point at the midway point of the first quarter. The Nix went into the last three minutes up by five however Newby’s men managed to cut the deficit down to two and went into the second quarter down 12-14.
Maarten Bouwknecht’s corner three put the Wolves up by one at the 8:43 mark before baskets by Henry Wilkins and Williams increased Worcester’s lead to four at the 7:56 mark. Buckets from Anderson, Bouwknecht and Lawson extended Worcester’s cushion to eight but Lull and Ross countered quickly and brought the deficit back to four at the mid-way point of the quarter. Worcester gained their first double-digit advantage of the night through Parks Jr, with just over three minutes left in the first half. The Nix were outscored by two in the final 180 seconds of the quarter and went into the break down, 24-37.
Cheshire opened the third quarter with a 6-2 run inside the first two minutes, and reduced the deficit to single-digits thanks to baskets by Hayes and McCall. Kyle Carey and Parks traded buckets at the half-way point of the penultimate quarter, as the Nix attempted to claw back into the game, however the Worcester big-man capped off a 6-0 run and put his side up by 13 with 4:40 left in the frame. Lawson’s finish in transition extended Worcester’s lead to 15 before Anderson increased the hosts’ cushion to 18 with a corner trey. The Nix held the Wolves to three points in the final three minutes of the quarter, while they added eight points through Mouliom, Carey and Ross, however Ben Thomas’ side went into the fourth trailing, 46-58.
Hayes scored Phoenix’s first bucket in the final frame but the Wolves replied well with baskets from Bouwknecht and Williams which put the Wolves up by 13 with seven minutes on the clock. McCall and Ross converted some tough attempts from the field while Mouliom added a couple of makes from the free-throw line as the Nix found themselves down by eight with just four minutes left. Ross hit Phoenix’s first three-pointer of the night at the 3:50 mark to bring the Nix to within five points of their opponents. With 1:23 left, the Nix went on a 5-0 surge to draw level at 71 points apiece. Worcester called a time-out and with just two seconds at his disposal, Elan beat his defender and connected on a clutch two-pointer to lift the Wolves past the Nix, 73-71.