Report: Riders’ season ends in Sheffield

Leicester Riders’ season ended in the British Basketball League Playoff Quarter-Finals, after losing to the Sheffield Sharks 86-69 in Game Three. 

After a closely fought first half, matching the tone set in the opening two games of the series, the Sharks blew the game open in the third with hot shooting, and the Riders couldn’t get back in it. 

Sam Idowu fought hard to chip into the deficit with 13 third quarter points, and led the team in the game with 16. But it wasn’t enough to make inroads, and the Sharks advanced to the semi finals. 

As he did in Game One, Prentiss Nixon led the Sharks with 17 points in 19 minutes of play. 

Riders fight back after slow start

Sharks had an electric start, with Malek Green capping off a 7-2 run from the tip-off with a putback jam. Sesan Russell found a response with a three from the top to momentarily quiet the crowd, but Devearl Ramsey and Green combined back-to-back to retake momentum. 

A shot clock violation from the Riders highlighted their slow offensive start. It was rookie Jaren Holmes whose aggression got them going as he pulled the strings with drive to the hoop. He drew a foul with 4:41 left in the first, his foul shots making the score 11-9, and Mo Walker tied it up at the rim a minute later. 

The Riders took their first lead of the game, Teddy Allen hitting his first three off the dribble, but the Sharks had the better of the final minute of the first with Prentiss Nixon banking in a three to end it, the hosts leading 24-21. 

Riders run meets Ratinho response 

Two Sheffield corner threes started the second quarter to give them a seven point lead. It was quickly double digits through Eytle-Rock on the break, forcing a Rob Paternostro timeout. 

A Miryne Thomas three stopped the bleeding, and after Samuel Idowu blocked Kipper Nichols driving to the rim, TJ Lall ran the break for two to cut into the deficit. 

As the Riders looked to equal the score, it was Holmes again to lead the charge. His and-one finish followed by a breakaway two cut it to one with 3:06 left in the half. 

Threes from Nichols and Jordan Ratinho undid the Riders work, however, and Ratinho hit another on the fastbreak to make the score 46-37 with one possession left in the second. That’s how the sides entered the half, as Nixon missed a prayer on the buzzer.

Sharks blow game open in the third

Ramsey got the second half underway with a midrange, followed by three scores from Green, to get the hosts the better start in the third period. They led 53-37 three minutes in. 

Idowu ran the pick-and-roll with Holmes to get two points back, but a Marcus Delpeche slam to get the points straight back. Idowu had 13 points in the third, attempting to get the Riders back in it with his work around the rim. 

But a rim-rocking alley-oop jam from Green took the roof off the Arena, and the score was 62-46 with 3:22 left in the period. 

Sharks see it out

The Sharks caught fire to end the game. Everything Pipkins and Nichols shot found string, allowing them to pull away to a 20 point advantage quickly in the fourth period. Pipkins logged with 12th points to make the score 74-52. 

Blake Bowman scored back-to-back for the Riders, using his athleticism at the rim, but Pipkins hit another three on the other end. 

The fourth quarter was 17-17, and the Riders’ season came to a close.