2019 – Luke feels the force as Leopards blitz Riders
A stunning display of three-point shooting saw Leopards hammer reigning champions Loughborough Riders 108-76 at Essex Sports Arena, on Sunday .
The Big Cats hit an incredible 20 three-pointers with just 32 shots in what was probably the best shooting performance in the club’s 15-year history .
They were led by Luke Mascall-Wright who drained a stunning eight triples from nine attempts on his way to a 36-point night, adding five assists, three steals and a couple of rebounds for good measure.
Leopards led for the whole game against Riders with Sam Newman doing much of the early damage as he finished with six-from-10 three-point shooting on the way to a 22 point, seven rebound, six assist night.
Asante Sandiford added nine assists, seven rebounds and three steals to his 15 points despite fouling out, while Lee Hodges had 13 points before joining his fellow big man on the bench.
Findlay Wood set the tone for the evening with a score the from Land of Plenty, and with Newman hitting two threes, Wood scoring another and Mascall-Wright also getting in on the act, Leopards were 20-8 up after six minutes.
Newman was unstoppable at this stage, hitting another three triples as the Big Cats went into the first break 30-17 ahead and a trey from Andre Lavinier made it 39-24 at the mid-stage of the second period. .
Mascall-Wright dropped his second three to put the Big Cats 46-26 up with three first half minutes remaining, only to see Riders halve that lead to 46-36 with a 12-2 run thanks partly to five points from Niall Harris going into the locker room.
Hodges scored six of Leopards first nine second half points and despite a 7-0 run from the visitors it was predictably Mascall-Wright who scored from downtown to give the Big Cats a 72-58 lead going into the final break,
Chuck Duro joined the trey-fest to open the fourth period before Mascall-Wright hit another pair of triples and then scored eight straight points as Leopards they killed off the game with 23 unanswered points to move them up to ninth in the table .
Tony Yome led the visitors with 13 points, with Alex Roberts adding 12 Lucian Cristofis and Harris getting 11 apiece.
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The Brentwood Centre crowd saw Robert Youngblood’s team produce arguably their best performance of the season as they led for all but 32 seconds of the game to set up a last four tie at Hemel Storm in February. .
The Big Cats were 48-24 ahead at half-time and led by as many as 30 in the third period as Youngblood was able to give at least five minutes of court time to all 12 of his players and, despite starting the game, the Leopards’ coach was able to restrict his own playing time to 12 minutes.
Simon Cummings led the way for the Big Cats with 15 points, four rebounds, three assists and as many steals, but it was Greg Hernandez who had the most impressive game with a 14 point, 13 rebound double-double, adding six assists and three steals. Taner Adu added 13 point, while England junior Rowell Graham continued his comeback from injury with seven points and three blocks.
Hernandez opened the scoring with a three point play, and although scores from Martyn Gayle and Jeff Smith briefly gave the visitors the lead, Leopards responded with a 13-2 lead capped by Cummings’ three-pointer and Lawrence Brown’s put-back sent them into the first break with a 24-14 lead .
Simon Allaway hit a three to cut the lead to seven at the start of the second period, but scores from Graham and Brown quickly put the lead back in double figures .
Cummings’ steal and assist to Tom Martin saw the lead go about the 20 mark with 75 first half seconds remaining before Cummings drained another three to send the Big Cats into the locker room with a 24 point lead .
Adu hit the first six points of the second half to effectively as the visitors were held scoreless for almost four minutes and the lead never dipped below 26 in the third quarter before Dan Dunscombe hit a free-throw to send the hosts into the final break with a 63-37 lead .
Youngblood was able to run his bench in the fourth period as Leopards’ lead never dipped below 24, and it was Martin who wrapped up the scoring as Leopards reached the Trophy semi-final four the fourth time in five seasons.
Leopards: S Cummings (15), G Hernandez (14), T Adu (13), C Josey (9), L Brown (8), R Graham (7), I Fontaine (5), D Dunscombe (5), T Martin (5), R Youngblood, D Camile, L Robertin.
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