2015 – Leopards thunder-struck
A poor shooting performance saw the Big Cats convert just 23 percent of their field goal attempts, and they trailed 41-30 at the final break. But worse was to come as they went almost five minutes without troubling the scorers as Thunder built a 50-30 lead.
Albert Margai finally ended the drought with a pair of free-throws, and Leopards went on to outscore the visitors 20-2 in the final five minutes. The closest the Big Cats came to an unlikely victory was when a Margai jump shot made it a five point game with 44 seconds on the clock, but a harsh unsportsmanlike call on Ashby ended the dream..
Ajumobi and Ladi Brown were the only two Leopards in double figures with 15 and ten points respectively as well as each pulling down six rebounds. Van Beest finished with 13 boards but only added two points. Hank Rivers led the way for the Thunder with a massive 28 point, 19 rebound double-double, with Joshua Brown finishing with ten points and seven boards.
For the second time in the weekend the Big Cats found themselves out-rebounded, this time by a massive 63-40, and despite Thunder turning the ball over 21 times to the hosts’ ten and Leopards having 14 more field goal attempts, the south coast side deservedly took the victory.
Rivers’ two free-throws were answered by a Lawrence Brown dunk to open the game, and Ajumobi put the home side 6-4 up before Thunder closed out the first period on a 12-6 run to lead 16-12. Byron Richards halved that deficit off a Ladi Brown assist to open the second period, but they only scored six more points in the quarter and were grateful that Thunder struggled offensively as well, with the visitors leading 26-20 at half-time.
Ajumobi made it a four point game two minutes into the second half with a tip-in, and although neither side’s offence go going, a Van Beest jump shot cut the deficit to 32-28 at the mid-stage of the quarter But Leopards only troubled the scorers once during the next ten minutes, as Rivers sent them into the final break 41-30 down and the same player opened the fourth period scoring.
Five points from Joshua Brown saw Thunder’s lead grow to 50-30 with 5:40 on the clock before the Big Cats finally got going. A pair of treys from Ladi Brown and a three-point play from Ashby cut the deficit to 11 points with three minutes on the clock.
Ajumobi sunk a pair at the foul line to make it a nine point game two minutes from time before he tipped in Ladi Brown’s miss with a minute on the clock to cut the Thunder lead to seven. Margai hit a jump shot with 44 seconds but the visitors held on boost their play-off hopes and seal Leopards’ fifth league loss of the league season.
Thames Valley Tigers 96 Essex Leopards 74
BBL Championship @ Bracknell Leisure Centre
London Leopards 90 Milton Keynes Lions 83
BBL Championship @ The Brentwood Centre
Leopards 89 Worthing Bears 76
Budweiser League @ London Arena