Friday 20th November 2020
BBL Cup Group Phase
B. Braun Sheffield Sharks 64 Leicester Riders 85
The B. Braun Sheffield Sharks took another tough loss against the in-form Leicester Riders in their latest BBL Cup Group 3 encounter. The Sharks had an off-shooting night, only making 36% from the field in contrast to Rob Paternostro’s Riders, who claimed 48% of their shots led by 20 point top scorer Corey Johnson. The Sharks must now look to claim victories in their final two group games if they are to stand a chance of progressing to the next stage.
Sharks: Lewis, Lillard, Koch, Marsden, McKnight.
Riders: Crandell, Lee, Johnson, Jackson, Nelson-Henry.
The Riders, fresh from a 97-76 win over London Lions last week, hit the ground running and Johnson set the tone for solid night with an opening three. Jackson followed suit and scores from Lee and Crandell saw Leicester open up a 3-12 lead. The Sharks edged their way back; Mackey McKnight scored via the baseline and his corner triple reduced the difference at 15-20. Jackson drained a further trey from the top of the key but the quarter closed on a Lillard bucket with the score at 17-24.
The expected standard of defence from the Sharks materialised at the beginning of the second period and as a result, Leicester committed two backcourt violations with Bennett Koch’s lay up making it 24-27. Relentlessly, the Riders fought back from GB point guard Conner Washington and another Johnson triple at 26-40 and the Canadian Power Forward closed the half from downtown with the score at 31-45.
The Sharks rallied again at the top of the third quarter but couldn’t sustain the effort. Nicholas Lewis shook and baked his way to an early trey and the veteran skills of Rob Marsden made it 38-49 with a one handed putback. Six Johnson points and another three from Zach Jackson saw the Riders increase their lead to twenty at 40-60. Frustrations boiled over at the end of the stanza. Antwon Lillard and Coach Atiba Lyons picked up technical fouls with Lillard leaving the game after reaching his maximum as Leicester stayed ahead by 43-64.
Washington found himself wide open at the start of the fourth quarter but Mike Tuck matched his three moments later at 48-67. The confidence of Leicester shone on Crandell’s no look alleyoop assist to William Lee with the score at 50-69 and the Sharks hopes took a further dent as Bennett Koch left the game after his fifth foul at 54-74. Points difference is a crucial factor in this group stage and McKnight was mindful of this with a steal and lay up at 58-74. However, Johnson and Jamell Anderson out of the corner made further triples and it was Geno Crandell, the influential Riders guard who closed out the game from the line at 64-85.
A tough night for the Sharks was reflected in the paucity of scores across the board. Kipper Nichols came from the bench to lead with 13 points and there was a 12 point, 6 assist performance from Mackey McKnight. However, the Sharks performed better when their veterans were on court and the plaudits went the way of Doncastrian Rob Marsden, who finished with 10 points, 8 rebounds and an assist.
B. Braun Sheffield Sharks v Newcastle Eagles, Sunday 29th November 2020, Ponds Forge International Sports Centre, 3pm Tip Off.