by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix dropped to 0-3 in the regular season after they suffered an eight-point loss on the road against the Bristol Flyers.
The Nix went into the final quarter behind 55-56 and trailed by just two points with seven minutes left on the clock, however an 8-to-2 run in the following four minutes helped the Flyers establish an eight-point advanatge, which the Nix failed to erase by the time the final buzzer sounded.
The Flyers were more accurate from the field (31-63 FG; 49%) and the free-throw line (11-14 FT; 78%) than the Nix (25-61 FG; 40%) + (9-13 FT; 69%) however Ben Thomas’ team shot the ball better from deep (9-29 3PT; 31%) than their opponents (3-14 3PT; 21%). Both teams grabbed 35 rebounds, however the Nix committed six more turnovers (17) than the Flyers (11) and also accumulated two less assists (17) than Andreas Kapoulas’ men (19).
A hotly contested opening quarter finished 18-17 in Bristol’s favour despite strong starts from Phoenix forward Levi Bradley and center Radwan Bakkali. The Nix had the momentum on their side going into the second act of the game, following Josh McSwiggan’s buzzer-beating three-pointer to close the first frame.
It was McSwiggan who also got the first bucket of the second quarter, a three-pointer at the 9:07 mark which put the Nix back into the ascendancy. Malcolm Delpeche tied the scores at 20 points apiece on the next possession however the Nix edged the Flyers 14-to-13 in the last eight minutes of the first half and went into the interval with a slim 34-to-33 lead.
Cheshire tied the game twice in the penultimate quarter, however they failed to get back on the front foot after Trejon Jacob opened the second half with a make inside the first 20 seconds to put his side up by one. Despite being unable to jump back into the lead, the visitors did a great job of keeping the game close as they went into the final quarter behind by just one point.
The Flyers kept the Nix scoreless in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter and extended their lead to seven in the process, however the guests came right back with an instant 5-0 run and closed the gap to a single possession, with 7:28 remaining. The home side finally pulled away after the Nix went on a three-minute scoring drought, in which they allowed the Flyers to create an eight-point separation. Michael Ochereobia helped his team get to within four points of their opponents with just over a minute left on the clock but Namon Wright then misfired on two consecutive attempts, while Jacob scored the last basket of the night to ice the game 76-68 in Bristol’s favour.
Malcolm Delpeche scored a game-high 26 points for the Flyers. The American center also grabbed six rebounds and dished out a couple of assists. Jacob (16), Marcus Evans (16) and Raphell Thomas-Edwards (11) also tallied double-digit points while Mike Miller supplied his team with four points, eight rebounds and five assists off the bench.
McSwiggan (12), Wright (12) and Levi Bradley (12) were the only Nix players to finish in double-digit scoring. Teddy Okereafor misfired on eight of his nine attempts from the field and only finished with three points, however he impacted the game in other ways as he was just one rebound and one assist shy of a double-double.