BBL Trophy: Loughborough Riders 73 London Lions 81
PUBLISHED: 14:30 24 January 2018
London Lions booked their place in the semi-finals of the BBL Trophy thanks to a 25-point game from Cory Dixon.
A game against the lower division Loughborough Student Riders should have been an easy win for the Lions but, with a further injury to Vince Macaulay’s men in the shape of Justin Robinson going off before the half, and a young home side eager for a BBL scalp, predictions didn’t mean anything.
The Lions started the game fittingly with Paul Guede missing a three-point shot and they struggled from downtown for much of the night, making only nine from 22 attempts, and just three from 13 attempts in the first half.
ut, as Dixon was fouled on a second chance tip in, he gave the Lions a 9-5 lead, shortly to be extended by Brandon Peel whose lay-up took the lead to six.
A Joe Ikhinmwin three took the lead to 14-5 and the Lions looked firmly in control with just shy of four minutes left of the first quarter.
It was all about to change though, and nothing would seem to go London’s way for the next 13 minutes of action as Lions would only score once more in quarter one with a welcome return from injury for Momcilo Latinovic.
They went into the quarter break ahead 16-10, but the Riders were just getting their confidence back.
The Lions on the other hand went cold and two minutes of the second quarter had gone by with no points before Guede stepped up and sunk a three to restore London to a four-point lead.
The Lions were on the ropes, fighting for the lead in a game they expected to be winning comfortably as Loughborough were sinking threes and making lay-ups as the visitors struggled with turnovers and bad passes.
But they did enough to prevent a gap building up and, despite losing the quarter 23-16, the Lions went into the locker room only down by one point, thanks to a beautiful buzzer-beating put-back from Peel.
The Riders came out for the third hungry, but the Lions had regained their composure enough to have wrestled the lead back and built up a five-point buffer in the first two minutes.
The Riders weren’t done yet, though, and threw the kitchen sink at London, fighting bucket to bucket for the lead and at the end of the third it was still anyone’s game with the Lions up 55-52.
The fourth saw the Lions take control of the game, building up a 10-point lead with just three minutes left.
An increasingly desperate Riders tried everything, fouls, three-point shots, but it was London who walked away with the victory, with a Dixon alley-oop making the point.
Lions have set up a next round clash with Leicester, but are first back in league action on Sunday in Leeds.