The Riders fell on the road 102-96 against the Cheshire Phoenix.
It was a tie game entering the final quarter, little separating the sides throughout the contest. Cheshire went up 11 with 2:30 to go, but the Riders found a spirited comeback to cut it to a possession with 30 seconds on the clock.
They went on an 8-0 run led by Samuel Idowu’s three and putback slam to give themselves a chance, and Cheshire’s Laquincy Rideau missed both at the line with the difference only three points.
But the officials pointed Cheshire’s way on a 50/50 out of bounds call, allowing the hosts to see it out.
Caleb Asberry continued his hot form after his 16 point performance against the London Lions on Friday night, leading the Riders with a season-high 23 points going 8-12 from the field.
Iwodu also impressed off the bench throughout with 18 points and seven rebounds, finishing the game with a +/- of 15.
For Cheshire, American forward Ethan Chargois led the game with 23 points, eight rebounds and six assists. They took a late advantage with hot shooting to start the fourth, benefitting from a week’s extra rest late.
Asberry picked up where he left off after his Player of the Game performance against London, scoring the Riders first eight points. But the Phoenix exploded to a hot start, gunning from behind the arc to make their first five three point attempts, going up 10 early.
The Riders’ second unit checked into the game midway through the first to breath some life into the Riders’ offence. Mo Walker immediately got to work with two quick baskets, before Sam Idowu drove to the rim for an and-one play- Leicester’s frontcourt doing the business inside.
The bench got the Riders back into the game despite a red hot Chesire offensive start led by 10 points from American forward Ethan Chargois. Walker came up with a block on Rideau with seconds left in the period, setting up an Asberry buzzer beating layup to cut the deficit to four.
Leicester took the game by the reins in the second, starting with two triples from TJ Lall and Kimbal Mackenzie which took their first lead of the game. It was the Riders’ turn to punish their opponents from deep, making four in five minutes.
The Phoenix hung around in the game, the Riders keeping ahead in the ball game by finding success attacking inside. Mackenzie’s drive to the hoop concluded the half’s action with Leicester leading 55-49.
Cheshire started the second half the nighter of the sides, running in transition to generate their offesnce in the open floor and snatch back the lead. The Riders fired back in response to reclaim their advantage at the hands of Lall, who scored four quick points inside.
Lall kickstarted a 7-0 Riders run to give the Riders a five point lead, but a stong end to the quarter from Cheshire’s Aaryn Rai tied it up at 72 with one to play.
The Phoenix started the fourth hot, attacking the rim to start the quarter 9-1. The Riders battled back, finding their way to the free throw line by driving to the hole to keep it to a six point defecit as the clock ticked down to five remaining in the game.
But Cheshire closed out strong, hitting big shots down the stretch led by Chargois’ seven point final quarter to secure a win. Asberry and Idowu came up with late threes to bring it back to six, before Idowu threw down a huge putback jam to give Leicester a late chance.
Mackenzie followed up a missed free throw with a bucket to cut it to a possession, and Rideau missed both after the subsequent foul, but the referee’s gave the out of bounds call Cheshire’s way, allowing them to seal it at the line.
The loss sent the Riders home empty handed in a closely fought game for the second time in the weekend. They return to action next week on the road against the Sheffield Sharks.