Plymouth Raiders too strong all-round for BBL strugglers Sheffield
SHEFFIELD SHARKS...71 PLYMOUTH RAIDERS...99
MARJON Plymouth Raiders improved to 7-3 in the BBL Championship following a dominant, 28-point win at struggling powerhouse Sheffield Sharks last night.
Coach Gavin Love's team led by 10, 71-61 near the end of the third quarter at the England Institute of Sport before blowing the contest open with a decisive 17-2 run which built a 25-point, 88-63 gap in the fourth.
Encouragingly, ahead of tomorrow's crunch BBL Cup semi-final first leg against Newcastle Eagles, Raiders had six scorers in double-digits.
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Michael Ojo, Jeremy Bell and Colin O'Reilly led the offence with 23, 18 and 16 points respectively, backed by Javarris Barnett, Matt Schneck and Drew Lasker, who hit 13, 11 and 10 respectively.
Rookie Barnett came big and carried Raiders' offence towards the end of a back-and-forth first quarter.
From 16-15 to 29-24 up, the power-forward scored 11 of 13 Raiders points, including three threes.
Barnett, struggling on 32 per cent shooting prior, led Raiders in scoring with 13 points at half-time on a perfect 5/5 shooting and 3/3 threes.
Raiders began to slowly take control of the topsy-turvy contest late in the second, with a 10-4 run building a seven-point, 48-41 lead to buoy them heading into the locker-room.
Guard Lasker sparked it with a two before forward O'Reilly added a basket to stretch the gap to five, 42-37.
Sharks big-man Olu Babalola answered with a bucket to cut it to 42-39 before Lasker, forward Jamal Williams and guard Ojo all hit twos before the break.
Babalola drilled a three to cut Raiders' lead to as few as two, 55-53 with 4:28 remaining in the third, but that would be as close as Atiba Lyon's team got as Raiders instantly replied with a 14-5 response to rebuild a 69-58 lead.
Centre Schneck triggered it with a basket before guard Bell hit 2/2 free-throws to make it 59-53. Williams and Ojo next added four points apiece to create clear water over Sharks.
Ojo sparked Raiders' 17-2 streak with the last basket of the third and added two more twos early in the fourth to make it 79-61.
O'Reilly weighed in with a two and then a three to push it to 84-63 with 7:00 left.