Cheshire Phoenix 62 – 70 Leicester Riders
by Vlad Ionasc
Cheshire Phoenix lost the first leg of their series against the Leicester Riders after a fourth quarter collapse.
The Nix were down all game long until a scoring surge during the fourth saw the Cheshire side go up 10 points on the guests. However, Phoenix ended the game badly. They went scoreless during the last five minutes of the game and allowed the Riders to take an eight-point advantage into the second leg.
The visitors started off slightly better, as they accumulated a four point lead after five minutes of play. The Nix tried to stabilise the game but the home side were forced into multiple silly turnovers and also allowed their opponents nine offensive rebounds. Phoenix shot just 46% from the field in the opening quarter and found themselves down 17-21 going into the second.
The hosts started the second period of play with a 5-2 run but their efforts were quickly cancelled out by the Riders as they worked themselves a nine point lead with just five minutes to go of the first half. The Nix answered Leicester surge with an alley-oop and a corner three and eventually reduced the visitors’ lead to just one point. The Riders quickly recovered their lead after the Nix failed to score in the last two minutes of the half. The home side went into the interval down, 30-38.
The Riders added to their lead at the start of the second half, the visitors went on a quick 10-6 run. The Nix battled hard and hustled for the rest of the quarter. Ben Thomas’ side gained some momentum and cut the lead to one point just before the third quarter buzzer. Sol Rolls-Tyson was perfect from beyond the arc in the first 30 minutes of the game, connecting on all three attempts.
The Nix took the lead in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter and quickly created a seven-point cushion for themselves. The hosts played amazing basketball in the first part of the fourth period of play, they defended at a high level and shared the ball well, creating great looks for each other. Cheshire’s lead swelled to 1o points with just five minutes until the final buzzer but the Riders scored 13 unanswered points and clawed back into the game. Leicester’s late comeback meant that they won the first leg of the series, 70-62.
Key Team Stat: 18 forced turnovers. The Nix played good defence and forced the Riders into a staggering 18 turnovers during the game, however the team wasn’t able to capitalise as they shot just 37% from the field and 27% from three-point range.