The Riders improve to 16-6 in the BBL Championship after a road win against the Cheshire Phoenix.
Kimbal Mackenzie went off for 31, his highest-scoring tally as a Rider. He went 11-15 from the field and 5-5 from the free throw line in his explosive performance, taking over late with six points in the closing minutes as the Phoenix cut it to 10.
Leicester blew the game open in the second quarter, as Mackenzie’s buzzer-beater to send the teams into halftime gave them their first double-digit lead. From there, they continued to build their advantage in the third, before seeing it out in the fourth in the face of a Phoenix comeback effort.
Carrington Love recorded his first 20-point effort as a Rider after joining last month. He made three threes and dished six assists in his performance, acting as a spark plug off the bench.
This marked the second double-digit win in a weekend doubleheader, as the Riders can take great momentum into a two-week break from action.
For Cheshire, Anderson put up 24 in an attempt to get his side back in it. He scored key buckets late in the third to build momentum, but the Riders made big shots down the stretch to seal it.
Neither side found a significant advantage until the second period. Cheshire edged ahead initially, taking a seven-point lead late in the first through a fastbreak layup from Maceo Jack.
However, the Riders quickly responded, in part thanks to eight points from Carrington Love shortly after his introduction to the game. He hit a three on the buzzer to close the quarter, however, Cheshire went 12-17 from the field to take a narrow lead going into the second.
Mackenzie’s free throws for his ninth points of the evening took their first lead of the game to start the second. He took over at the start of the quarter, scoring five in under two minutes to seize the game’s momentum.
Leicester went 18-10 five minutes into the second period, taking a 44-38 lead. Marc Loving went off for 10 straight points, taking the reigns.
In reverse to the first quarter, the Phoenix were forced to fight back through three threes from Jack, however, on this occasion, the Riders kept the hosts at arm’s length to take an 11 point lead into halftime, following a buzzer-beating Mackenzie heave for three after a scramble for the ball.
Back-to-back buckets from Mackenzie, which made his game tally 20, concluded a 14-8 run through the first five minutes of the third period. Leicester extended the lead built in the second period with intense defensive pressure leading to baskets on the fastbreak, leading to a fast-paced third quarter.
The Riders built a 22 point lead near the end of the third before the Phoneix scored seven points in a minute to cut into the lead going into the fourth. Anderson scored five of these to give his side late momentum.
Despite Cheshire bringing the Riders’ lead down to 10 in the fourth following a free throw from Larry Austin, the Riders saw it out, building off back-to-back tough midranges from Mackenzie with three minutes remaining.
From there, a three from Love and free throws from Mackenzie to get him over the 30 points mark left it beyond doubt.
The Riders have a pause from action for the international break until March 3, when they take on the table-topping London Lions at home. Tickets are expected to sell fast, so get them here to watch the action live!