by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix snapped their four-game losing streak and claimed the season series over the Glasgow Rocks with an 84-77 win at the Emirates Arena.
The Nix executed poorly in the first half, as they shot just 34% from the field and missed 14 of 15 attempts from three-point range. The Rocks capitalised on Phoenix’s shooting woes and went into the break with an 8-point advantage.
Cheshire suffered a scare in the third quarter when Jalen Hayes was forced to check out of the game following a hard fall in the paint, however they still added 31 points in the penultimate frame, while restricting the Rocks to just 20.
The Nix cruised to a seven-point victory over the hosts, as they took full control of the contest in the fourth. Cheshire slowed the game down and allowed the Rocks to score just 15 points in the final frame, while they added 19.
Gareth Murray scored a game-high 23 points on 7-of-19 shooting, while Boban Jacdonmi posted a 17-point, 15-rebound double-double for the Rocks.
The hosts converted 47% of their attempts from behind the arc, however they cancelled out their torrid shooting with the 18 turnovers that they committed.
Every Phoenix started scored in double-digits but it was Pharroh Gordon and who led the way with a joint-team high 14 points, to which he also added two rebounds, two assists and a steal. Mike McCall Jr. also scored 14 points, off the bench, while Jimbo Lull contributed with 13 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
Hayes checked back into the game at the 2:52 mark of the third quarter and finished with 10 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Cheshire obtained 26 assists on 32 made baskets and only turned the ball over on seven occasions.
Murray knocked down back-to-back triples to give the Rocks a 6-point lead inside the first two minutes of the game. The Nix got themselves on the board at the 7:56 mark through Kyle Carey’s make in the paint. The hosts extended their lead to eight by the time the clock reached the 5-minute mark, as they capitalised on Phoenix’s offensive troubles with buckets on the other end. Glasgow’s lead was trimmed to just two at the 3-minute mark, as the Nix scored six unanswered points. The Rocks closed the quarter well as they extended their advantage to five and went into the second stanza up 20-15.
Ben Thomas’ men missed their first six shots of the second quarter and allowed the Rocks to gain the first double-digit lead of the night at the 7:45 mark. The visitors made it a two-possession game before the half-way point of the second frame, however the hosts then went on another 5-0 run, which put them ahead by 11, with 3:40 remaining in the first half. Marc Kwedi and Jacdonmi combined for four points in the space of a minute and increased Glasgow’s lead to 15. The Nix finished the opening half better than their opponents as they trimmed the deficit down to single-digits by the time the half-time horn sounded.
The Nix blitzed the Rocks inside the first two minutes of the second half and closed the gap to just two points. Hayes landed awkwardly after a made-basket inside the paint and was substituted at the 8:12 mark. The Nix found themselves in front for the first time after Gordon knocked down the team’s second three-pointer of the night at the 7:09 mark. The two sides were tied at 50 points apiece with five minutes remaining in the third quarter. Isa Brandon converted an and-one play before Murray drilled a three-pointer to give the Rocks a six-point cushion at the 3:45 mark. The Nix executed much better than their opponents in the dying minutes of the quarter and went into the decisive frame with a 65-62 lead.
Cheshire failed to add any points in the first two and a half minutes of the fourth quarter, while the Rocks added six through Jacdonmi, Julius Van Sauers and Fraser Malcolm to give themselves a three-point lead. Lull then went on a solo 4-0 run to put the Phoenix up by one with seven minutes left to play. Phoenix replied to Jacdonmi’s lay-up at the 6:42 mark with back-to-back triples from McCall Jr. and Carey. The Nix gained their first double-digit lead of the night at the 2:43 mark after Kahron Ross converted a technical free-throw. Jonny Bunyan, Jacdonmi and Malcolm all scored for the hosts in the final minutes of the contest, however the Rocks failed to overcome Phoenix’s 12-point cushion as they dropped the game 77-to-84.