Report: Riders win a battle in Essex

The Riders improved to 5-1 after defeating the Essex Rebels 79-70 in a hard-fought road encounter. 

Rayven Peeples dominated late, scoring seven in the final quarter on her way to 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Taylor O’Brien led the Riders with 19 points and 5 rebounds, after being named Women’s British Basketball League Player of the Month earlier in the day. 

Leicester were forced to fight for the win, never leading by double digits in the game. They found form late on to seal it after leading all through the second half.

Star guard Kat Tudor led the game with 23 points and 9 rebounds, catching fire from deep to shoot 5-9. The Rebels hit big shots to keep within striking distance, but couldn’t overcome Rayven’s power in the paint. 

On the road against an in-form Rebels outfit, the Riders exchanged buckets with Essex early. Scottish forward Claire Paxton scored five quick points for the Rebels, matched by GB international Sam Ashby for the visitors through the opening five minutes. 

For her seventh points, Ashby’s quick cut to the basket was found by Taylor O’Brien’s handoff for the highlight of the first quarter. Leicester found success by attacking the hoop off the ball throughout. 

After seven first-quarter lead changes, the Riders led 21-19 following Dayzsha Rogan’s blown breakaway layup to end it. 

Missed open threes were the story of the second for the Riders. The team got good looks from deep but only connected on one of their six open attempts as the Rebels remained in the game. 

O’Brien took the reigns as the clock ticked down to the half. She scored seven in the quarter to bring her game tally to a team-high 12. 

With little between the sides, Shahid Abboud caught fire for five quick points to give the Riders their biggest lead of the game at 42-35. She knocked down a three, then drove into the teeth of the Rebels’ defence and sank a floater in the lane. 

Essex hit back to close the half at the hands of their leading scorer on the season Kat Tudor, before Paxton hit two free throws to make it 42-39 in Leicester’s favour going into the locker rooms. 

Rayven Peeples took over the scoring load to behind the second half, as the Riders played from in front. She scored six straight points in three minutes, concluded by a tough finish through contact. 

With the three ball still not dropping, the Riders found ways to consistently get to the bucket and keep the scoreboard ticking over. But once again, the Rebels found form late in the quarter to bring it back to a possession with four straight points. 

Peepes continued to impress in the fourth, driving to her right and finishing through a foul for an and-one play. O’Brien followed up her teammate with a three to extend the Riders’ lead to six. 

Peeples extended the lead to nine with five minutes remaining in the game with eight of the Riders’ first 10 points in the final quarter of action. The American rookie put Leicester in good stead to see the game out. 

Tudor found a response for the Rebels with their first triple of the fourth, and her game-high 23rd points of the afternoon. 

But the Riders had enough to get over the line, as Peeples continued to battle down low with no answer defensively from Essex. 

Mckenzie Johnston’s layup inside was the dagger, sealing Leicester their fifth win of the season. 

The Riders can now enjoy a winter break, returning to action on Febuary 10th to take on the Cardiff Met Archers at home.

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