Friday 1st February 2019
DBL Sharks Sheffield 69 Leicester Riders 77
A short-handed DBL Sharks Sheffield lost the head to head and their second place against Leicester Riders but it was a performance with great heart given the circumstances. The Sharks pushed the Riders all the way and it took a couple of clutch scores from JR Holder to send the visitors back down the M1 with the points.
Sharks: Marsden, Alexander, Williams, Martin, Collins
Riders: Washington, Hampton, Holder, Williams, Anderson
Jamell Anderson gave the Riders the early advantage at 4-8 but back to back hooks from Rob Marsden saw the Sharks take a 13-10 lead. The first of four perfect attempts from beyond the arc from Connor Washington drew Leicester level and they pushed on to edge a close first ten minutes by 15-20.
There wasn’t a huge amount to choose between the sides in the second quarter either. The Sharks drew to within three on Anthony Collins trey at 24-27 and Chris Alexander’s change of direction saw that become one at 27-28. The Riders bench depth told as Ward-Hibbert, Anderson and Washington all connected on triples to take the score out to 29-37. Rob Marsden showed tremendous stamina to make the score 33-37 but Washington concluded an entertaining but close half at 33-40.
After Washington put Leicester in front at 36-43 early in the third, the Sharks set about reducing the deficit through Doncaster duo Rob Marsden (4) and a three from Mathew Martin. Martin and Backovic again inched the Sharks in front, only for Ward-Hibbert and Thomson to restore parity. Thomson swayed things Leicester’s way with a three and further scores from Ward-Hibbert and Washington gave them a slight advantage at 49-56 going into the final ten minutes.
Two more points for Riders debutant Tim Williams and another Washington bucket saw the Sharks take time at 51-60 early in the fourth. Crucially, Chris Alexander collected his fourth foul with 7.35 left in the period, curtailing his involvement at a vital stage of the game. The indefatigable Marsden made a huge and one play at 54-62 and Collins second trey of the encounter gave the Sharks hope at 59-66 with four minutes left to play. JR Holder came up with a clutch triple at 62-71 and his putback at 66-73 inside the final minute kept the Riders slender advantage. Both sides entered penalty with Alexander exiting the contest with 14.7 seconds to go. Leicester successfully negotiated a series of trips to the line in the dying embers to come up with a hard-fought 69-77 win.
Without Mike Tuck and Davide Martinez-Morrant, the Sharks showed plenty of heart for the fight despite their shortened roster. Anthony Collins hit two key shots from beyond the arc as well as contributing his now-customary 7 assists to inspire his side. Chris Alexander left the game late in the fourth quarter but not before he almost steered the Sharks to an unlikely win with 15 points and 5 assists. The Sharks overall inspiration came from South Yorkshire however in the form of Doncaster duo, Rob Marsden and Mathew Martin. Pressed into service as a forward, Martin had his best night in a Sharks jersey. His 13 points came on 62% shooting allied with 3 rebounds, an assist and a steal. He provided an ideal foil for the overall MVP in fellow Doncastrian, Rob Marsden. Marsden carried the Sharks on his shoulders at times on his way to 21 points with 13 rebounds and 3 steals, edging ever closer to that magical 2000 mark in the BBL.
Atiba Lyons praised a battling display from his shortened roster for running the reigning champions extremely close. Lyons will persevere with the shortened squad ahead of a six game road trip which commences with a visit to Manchester Giants next week.
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