The Riders took a 92-85 win on the road to long-standing rivals, the Newcastle Eagles.
Here’s what we learned from the game…
For the second straight game, Miryne Thomas led the team with 17 points. His ability to score on all three levels, run in transition and battle around the hoop presents a constant threat to opposing defences.
In the seven-point win, Thomas finished the game with a +/- of 16 points, showcasing his impact on winning. He came up with monster slams throughout the game to inject energy into the team, while flying around the court on defence and in transition.
“I’m living my dream. I’ve been working to get here for over 10 years, and now I’m soaking it in,” said Thomas.
“I’ve been telling the team that I’m here to run and get tired. If I have zero points and rebounds and we come out with a win, I’m as happy as I would be if I had 100 points.”
With the game tied with 3:15 remaining, the Riders demonstrated their ability to battle it out in the clutch. They won the remainder of the game 14-7, executing on both ends with the game on the line.
Jaren Holmes impressed late, scoring six points in the final three minutes, including a coast-to-coast and-one play with 45 seconds on the clock. He hit a go-ahead three with the score at 78-78 to snatch momentum when it mattered.
“I trust my work. I make those shots every day in practice, from the layups to the threes, so I know I can be myself,” said Holmes.
“Hopefully, this win can put us in good stead for the rest of the season. We’re trying to build momentum and keep our energy and spirits high. We’re becoming a more cohesive group. Every day we learn more about each other, and each other’s games.”
Head Coach Rob Paternostro was proud of how the team saw the game out late.
“I was a little disappointed because I thought we could have been up a little more at the half.”
I knew we’d have to hang on in the second half, and we did a really good job in the last five minutes to get the job done.”
Different ways to win
The Riders’ victory against the Bristol Flyers last week came in large part thanks to their three-point shooting, going 46.2% from range.
They weren’t on the same red-hot form in this one but found another way to get it done. Leicester’s one-two punch of Thomas and Bridges wreaked havoc inside. They found success in the pick and roll with the Riders’ playmakers and in the post.
Newcastle had no answer. Thomas’s 17 was accompanied by Bridges 15 points, the latter going 6-6 from the field. Bridges is 18-21 from the floor on the season, making a name as one of British Basketball’s most efficient scorers.
Strength in depth
The Riders, once again, demonstrated the talent they have throughout their deep roster. Their bench outscored the Eagles 33-17, proving the difference between the sides.
They were led by Kimbal Mackenzie, who put up 16 points and four assists as the sixth man. He played out the final stages of the game, and his high defensive IQ proved pivotal in seeing out the game.
Another bench player stepping up in the closing minutes was Sam Idowu, whose clutch three made it 84-79 with just over a minute remaining. Idowu also proved his value on the defensive end with a monster block on Larry Austin Jr late.
Idowu came off the bench to great effect throughout. Behind the elite combination of Miryne Thomas and Braelen Bridges, the Riders did not miss a step when Idowu swapped them out, playing with the same level of physicality on both ends.
Giving minutes to 11 players, the Riders flexed the talent they have in their squad.
Riders rolling on Offence
In the early stages of the season, the Riders’ offence is ranked as one of the British Basketball League’s best. Their 89.5 points per game is good for second in the League, as is their 50.2% field goal percentage and 38.6% three-point percentage.
Scoring 92 points for the second straight game, the Riders’ offensive firepower throughout their roster proved too much for the Eagles. Leicester had nine points contributors on the night, and four players scored at least 15 points.
With multiple players able to be the difference on any given night, the Riders are in contention to put up big scoring numbers every time they take the floor.
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