Riders beat Eagles!

The Riders earned a hard-fought 89-79 win against the Newcastle Eagles, improving their record to 17-8. 

Marc Loving led the team with 20 points, scoring 11 in the final quarter to steer them home. Leicester won the fourth 24-17, coming up clutch after the score was within a possession with 10 minutes to play. 

Backing up Loving was captain Darien Nelson-Henry who went 7-10 from the field for 16 points. The center led from the front, finding success with his back to the basket and leading the game with a +/- of 13. 

After falling to the Eagles just two days ago, the Riders earned payback against their long-standing rivals. They shot well from three, going 41% from behind the arc, and got to the free throw line effectively to go 24-26. 

David Cohn led the game with 23 points, despite fouling out in the fourth. The visitors also had a hot shooting night to go 41% from three, but did not have enough late to beat the reigning champions for the second straight game. 

The Riders built their early play through their captain, as Nelson-Henry bagged six points in the paint in the opening quarter. They began to stretch their lead six minutes in, as Loving made three free throws to make it 20-14. 

They held their six-point lead after one, Zach Jackson leading the game with seven points. 

They stretched it to double digits a minute into the second quarter, after Kimbal Mackenzie and Carrington Love scored back-to-back in the opening stages. 

The Eagles found a way to get back into contention, cutting the game to five by getting to the free-throw line effectively. The second-best free throw shooters in the BBL this season were off the mark, however, shooting 66% in the quarter.  

The score swung back and forth to end the period. The Riders rebuilt their advantage to 10, but the Eagles scored seven points in two plays to end the half, including an and-one off a three-point make, to make it 41-38 at halftime. 

The sides continued to trade buckets coming out of the locker rooms as the game balanced on a knife’s edge. Nelson-Henry led the Riders with eight points in the third, playing effectively with his back to the hoop. 

The Eagles’ got going from three, making four in the quarter to stay in the game. Cohn’s triple with a minute remaining tied it up at 60.  

In response, Evan Walshe scored five points to end the third, making it 65-62 in the Riders’ favour with one to play. 

A three from Loving and an and-one play from Blake Bowman started the fourth quarter with a bang for Leicester. They started the period on an 8-2 run to go up seven. 

The Riders controlled the game from there, led by 11 points from Loving. An unsportsmanlike foul on Cohn saw him foul out of the game after he stopped Loving in transition, and the resulting play saw Jackson make it a nine-point lead. 

With a minute remaining, Mackenzie isolated on the top of the key, finding space in the midrange for two points, sealing a hard-fought win for Leicester. 

The Riders return to action on Friday, hosting the Caledonia Gladiators.

Get your tickets here!