Injuries prove too much for Plymouth Raiders in BBL loss at in-form Sheffield Sharks
Sheffield Sharks...82 Plymouth Raiders...67
MARJON Plymouth Raiders lost by 15 points, 82-67 against in-form Sheffield Sharks at the English Institute of Sport in the BBL Championship.
Raiders trailed by 15, 66-51 early in the fourth quarter, but cut the gap to seven, 72-65 inside the final three minutes on a pair of free-throws from forward Jamal Williams.
However, that was as close as Raiders could get on a night when, for the second contest on the spin, they were minus leading scorer Michael Ojo (twisted ankle) and reduced to a shallow six-man rotation.
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Against on-song Sharks, who have now gone 9-3 in their last 12 contests, it was too much.
Raiders now turn their thoughts to strugglers Mersey Tigers, who visit the Pavilions in the league on Friday (7.30pm).
Raiders then visit Cheshire Phoenix on Sunday (5.30pm), bringing to an end a frantic run of five games in 10 draining days.
Raiders boss Gavin Love said of the loss at Sharks: "We just didn't have any legs from the tip. No energy.
"I don't like to make excuses, but we had two tough games at the weekend and it wasn't enough time to recover.
"We gave it everything and it's a tough pill to swallow, but it was just one of those games."
At Sharks, Love started guards Drew Lasker – 'severely limited' by a hamstring strain and in hindsight maybe should not have played, conceded Love – and Colin O'Reilly, forward Javarris Barnett and inside big-men Matt Schneck and Andreas Schreiber.
Raiders trailed 6-0 early in the first before Lasker hit a three to get them going on offence.
O'Reilly next buried a three to make it 10-10 before Schreiber scored back-to-back to put Raiders 16-14 up late in the quarter.
Sharks guards BJ Holmes and Andrew Bridge hit back-to-back threes at the start of the second to put Sharks 22-18 up.
Holmes added a three before guard Nick Lewis and forward Olu Babalola too weighed in from the three-point arc to swell Sharks' lead to six, 33-27.
Lewis drilled another three and ballooned the gap to 12, 42-30.
Raiders' sixth-man Williams scored back-to-back to help rally Raiders before Lasker hit a three at the end of the half to cut the gap to seven points, 47-40.
Sharks were 6/10 from the three-point line at half-time.
Sharks big-man Mike Tuck scored six straight points at the start of the third to make it 53-40.
Holmes hit a three in the middle of the third to balloon Sharks' lead to 16 points, 59-43.
Schneck and Williams scored back-to-back to keep Sharks in sight and cut it to 59-47.
The gap was up to 15, 66-51 early in the fourth before an 8-0 Raiders run sparked by a Barnett three.
LEICESTER Riders beat Newcastle Eagles 80-69 in the big title showdown.