by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix crushed the lacklustre Surrey Scorchers on their way to a fifth consecutive win in all competitions.
Stanley Davis Jr. showed out for the hosts as he tallied a game-high 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting alongside three rebounds and three assists, however he received no back-up as the next highest scoring Surrey player accumulated just 11 points in 31 minutes.
The Nix kept their opponents to just 37% shooting from the floor and 22% from three-point land while they converted 49% of their attempts from the floor and 40% from deep. Cheshire won the rebounding battle by a huge margin, as Ben Thomas’ men hauled in 48 rebounds (13 offensive) while Creon Raftopoulos’ side totalled just 26 rebounds (four offensive).
The Scorchers gained their first lead of the night at the 9:15 mark of the opening quarter, when Caylin Raftopoulos knocked down a triple. Levi Bradley answered back with a solo 5-0 run in the space of just 30 seconds. The Nix found themselves up by four points at the half-way point of the first quarter and Bradley had the same amount of points as the entire Scorchers team. The hosts reduced the deficit to just one point with three minutes remaining in the quarter before the Nix engineered a 8-0 run which helped them go into the second frame with a comfortable nine-point cushion, 27-18.
Cheshire had their first double-digit lead of the night at the 9:42 mark of the second quarter, thanks to Michael Ochereobia’s made basket. Phoenix’s lead rose up to 19 before Davis Jr scored the last bucket of the first half with 59 seconds left on the clock. The Nix went into the interval with a 17-point lead after a dominant first half display.
The Scorchers enjoyed the penultimate quarter the most as they added 17 points whilst restricting the visitors to just 15. Raftopoulos’ men gained a bit of confidence and momentum in the dying minutes of the quarter as they embarked on a zippy 7-2 run, with baskets coming from veteran forward Tayo Ogedengbe and Davis Jr. Despite their best efforts of reducing the deficit back down to single-digits, the Nix held on firm and actually scored the last three points of the quarter through Noah Dickerson, which helped them go into the decisive quarter up by 67-to-52.
Ben Mockford, who was relatively quiet throughout the first three acts of the game, lit up at the start of the fourth frame as he drilled four triples inside the first four minutes, increasing Phoenix’s advantage to a then-game-high 23 points. Robbie Graham was deployed at the 4:37 mark and less than a minute later managed to knock down a triple which widened the margin between the two sides to 26. Phoenix’s lead reached a game-high 30 points with just 38 seconds remaining however Devin Thomas made a pair of free-throws to settle the final score at 90-to-62 in favour of the visitors.
Larry Austin Jr finished with a joint team-high 17 points to which he also added seven rebounds and nine assists whilst committing 0 turnovers. Mockford also finished with 17 points and four assists off the bench, as the GB guard made 5-of-8 shots from deep.
Noah Dickerson contributed with a 16-point, 10-rebound double-double which also included four steals and three blocks. The American center finished with a game-leading Plus/Minus of +24.
Bradley continued his hot-streak of double-figure scoring games as he added 15 points, eight rebounds and two assists on 50% shooting from the floor. The American forward has now scored 10+ points in each of his last 10 games in all competitions.