Marjon win tense dogfight in Wolves' backyard to make early title running
PLYMOUTH Marjon inflicted a first league defeat on Worcester Wolves II to go 2-0 in Division Three South of the EBL.
Coach Matt Hatchell's tenure at Marjon has begun the hard way on the road, but they remain perfect after winning 78-73 at Wolves II, who went 22-0 in Division Four last season and go 1-1 in 2012/13.
Marjon go into a three-way tie at the top of the standings.
"It was always going to be difficult," said Hatchell, who has replaced his father George, who was Marjon coach for 14 seasons. "We were playing them earlier than I wanted to be honest, but I was really impressed with us.
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"We can build on that now."
Marjon were led by 31 points inside from centre Tomas Janusauskas, who was supported well with 18 points from point-guard Jamie Davies and 14 from shooting-guard Mark Gillbard.
Wolves II's offence was anchored by forward Courtney van Beest and guard Eoghan Dover, who made 19 appearances between them in the top-flight BBL last season, with 20 and 17 points respectively.
Marjon were also without starting small-forward Dan Taylor.
Hatchell said: "Dan has very nasty deep bruising on his thigh.
"He's out for five to six weeks, which is a big blow. He's one of our key starters.
"We were really relying on the young guys to step in on Sunday and they did. They did a really good job."
Of Davies and Gillbard, Hatchell added: "I think with Jamie and Mark we have one of the strongest backcourts in the division. They're both still young, but very experienced."
The two teams were locked at 38-38 at half-time.
Hatchell said: "It was close all the way through. Worcester had a great outside threat and whenever you thought we were in control, they would hit back-to-back threes and got right back in it.
"We held on in the end, made good decisions and made our free-throws.
"We were up by eight points with four minutes to go. Worcester got it down to a one-point game with 40 seconds to go and pressed us high up the court.
"Then James Davies made a full-court pass to Tomas, who scored the lay-up and went to the foul line.
"That was a huge play. It put us up again by four."
Hatchell, who takes his team to 2-2 Cardiff Met this Saturday in the league (1pm), added: "Mark Gillbard's playing hurt with a bad back, so we're keeping an eye on his minutes and the younger guys are getting good experience.
"Jack Weekes and Jamie Brooking stepped up on Sunday. That's a good sign."