Leopards found high-flying Leicester Riders too strong on Sunday as they went out of the BBL Trophy with a 105-63 loss at a packed Brentwood Centre. .
The midlands side have lost only two of their 17 games this season, and have already booked a place in the BBL Cup final, and they pulled away in the second half to give the scoreline a flattering look .
Leopards were led by 17 Simon Cummings points, with Greg Hernandez adding 14 points and seven rebounds. Taner Adu had ten points and six assists, while Carl Josey added four points to his ten boards .
Pavol Lovensky led Riders with 18 points, and GB captain Drew Sullivan scored 17 points for Riders, adding seven rebounds.
Coach Youngblood remained upbeat after the game: “I was pleased with how we played in the first half, but a three week break showed in the last few minutes . I think the scoreline flattered them a bit, but the first half gave us something to build on next weekend.”
Any chance of an upset was effectively ruled out in the opening period as Leopards were called for an incredible ten fouls, with Youngblood and fellow big men Lawrence Brown and Dan Dunscombe each picking up two and the bench also collecting a technical foul .
Adu opened the scoring, and although Jay Couisnard replied, Youngblood gave Leopards what proved to be their final lead of the game when he put them 4-2 ahead .
Cummings and Adu both levelled the score at six and eight respectively but the Riders got themselves on a run as they secured an 18-5 burst to take the score out to 13-26 which they hold onto lead 15-30 at the end of the opening period .
In the second quarter, the Riders began strongly as they steadily increased their lead out to 19 points with 3:51 remaining in the period . The Leopards were not to be outdone however as eight straight points from Cummings cut the deficit to 11 before Hernandez wrapped up the first half scoring to cut Riders’ lead to 43-34 at half-time time .
That was as good as it got for Youngblood’s team as Riders stepped up the defensive pressure in the second half, limiting the home side to 12 points in the third period while adding 23 of their own, and as Leopards noticeably tired in the final stanza the visitors pulled away for a big victory .
Leopards: S Cummings (17), G Hernandez (14), T Adu (10), R Ubah (9), C Josey (4), T Martin (3), R Youngblood (2), I Fontaine (2), D Dunscombe (2), R Graham, L Brown, D Camille.
Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders’ forward Anthony Rowe and coach Rob Paternostro were impressed with the Leopards despite his side’s big win against them on Sunday afternoon .
The high-flying Riders won 105-63 in front of a big crowd at the Brentwood Centre to progress to the BBL Trophy quarter-final, but Rowe had some encouraging words about the Big Cats:
“It was one of those games against a side a division below you where you know you have more talent but it comes down to desire . I was impressed with Leopards, though. They showed a lot of heart, we blitzed them early on, but to give them some props they stuck at it and made it a nine point game at half-time .
“They kept battling and had some calls that they weren’t happy with, but they have some talent in that side.
“We definitely needed the game after the Christmas break so we could go through a few things and get back to playing good defence . They wanted that win so we had to focus and not take anything for granted. We needed to be turned in, and I think the game will help us as we prepare for the [BBL Cup] final”