Riders fall just short on the road

The Riders lost a close one at the Copperbox, falling 83-81 to the London Lions.

A 20-point comeback in the second quarter saw the Riders surge back into the game, but they couldn’t get over the hump to end it. 

Carrington Love had a chance to tie it on the buzzer but didn’t find the basket through contact. 

Love led the team with 17 points and six assists in the game, finding success driving to hoop to go 5-7 from two. He was backed by Evan Walshe off the bench who scored 14, leading the comeback with 13 in the first half. 

Defence set the tone in the opening stages, as the teams combined for six points in the opening three minutes. In this stretch, the Riders held London to two points before they went on a run to build a lead. 

The Lions’ threes started to fall as they went up 16-9. Josh Ward-Hibbert’s shot capped off the run, their fourth triple of the game. 

The Riders got to the free throw line effectively to remain in the game. They went 9-11 from the foul stripe in the opening quarter, led by Walshe’s 6-7. 

However, all but one Lion found their way onto the scoresheet, the hosts ending the first period up 14 led by Luke Nelson’s nine. 

Walshe and Jackson connected for threes early in the second to find the Riders’ offensive rhythm. Walshe led the game with 13 half way through the quarter as Leicester chipped into the lead. 

Jackson cut the defecit to nine with free throws with two minutes remaining in the half. The Riders held the Lions to two points in five minutes to charge back into the game, going on a 24-3 run to end the half. 

Leicester won the second period 32-17 to make it a game. The run, capped off by Jubril Adekoya’s three which saw the Riders take the lead into halftime. 

Neither side broke out to a lead to start the second, as the score remained within a possession through the first four minutes. The Lions edged out to a four point advantage through a 6-0 run midway through the third, but their momentum was stopped through a Kimbal Mackenzie three. 

London finsihed the third strongest, stretching their lead to six, but Mackenzie and Blake Bowman concluded the quarter with free throws to make it 68-65.

The sides, once again, traded buckets in the fourth, neither able to break away. The Lions built a seven point lead five minutes in, but the Riders hit big shots to keep in it. 

Midway through the period, Olumiye Oni fouled out after finding continual success finding the basket in the fourth. The Riders capatilised, as Jackson cut it back to three on the fastbreak. 

Jackson then fouled out also, forcing the Riders to see the game out without their star forward. 

And they almost did, the game coming down to the final shot. Love drove inside but couldn’t hit his layup which would have sent it to overtime. 

The Riders are back in action on Sunday, hosting the Newcastle Eagles.