Leicester Riders pulled off a gritty 101-93 win against Cheshire Phoenix, snapping the visitor’s undefeated streak in 2024.
The entire Riders unit stepped up after the League’s leading scorer, Teddy Allen, and Leicester’s captain Kimbal Mackenzie were ejected from the game.
TJ Lall topped the team’s scoring off the bench with 22 points, backed by Miryne Thomas’ who had 19 and exploded out of the half following Allen’s ejection.
Leicester were red hot from three, shooting 47% from deep on the game led by Lall and Thomas who combined for six.
Aaryn Rai led the game with 28 points, fighting wire to wire in his team’s effort. But they couldn’t overcome a spirited Riders effort, backed by a raucous home crowd.
Leicester weren’t just faced with the adversity of two ejections. They started slow, falling in a 20-2 hole in the first quarter.
Rai scored 8 points to start the game, and Leicester turned the ball over four times in three minutes in a stuttering start.
Thomas took the lid off the basket with a score at the rim to make it 20-4. One score was all it took for the Riders to find form, and Lall sank a corner triple to make it 20-9 with 4:10 left in the first.
The Riders rallied, going on a 15-3 run to end the first. Big man Duke Shelton ended the first with a drive to the hoop to make it 23-17, getting Leicester right back in it.
The surge continued in the second, and Sam Idowu grabbed the Riders the lead, as the hosts continued to attack inside.
The sides were locked in a back-and-forth towards halftime. Jaren Holmes put up seven points in the second quarter to shoulder the scoring load, hitting a corner triple after an Allen behind-the-back pass.
But the big moment in the game came minutes later, as Allen picked up a quick double technical which saw him ejected from the game. With the League’s leading scorer out of the tie, the Phoenix ended the period on a 4-0 run to make it 42-42 at the half.
Gunning out of the break
Thomas drained a three to settle the Riders into the second half. Leicester started the quarter in a 7-0 run, after three Skyler White misses on the other end. Thomas came out hot, hitting two quick triples to put Leicester up 55-48.
He brought his game tally to double figures with 3:55 left in the quarter, sinking a tough and-one finish over White.
Up 10, Leicester battled hard to close the third to keep their opponents at arm’s length. But to close the quarter, Riders captain Mackenzie picked up an unsportsmanlike foul after incidental off ball contact, which saw him out of the game with Allen.
Battling it out late
The third ended 70-62, the Riders needing heart and hustle to see it out.
Holmes attacked the hoop for two to start the final quarter, followed by Lall who put Leicester up 12. Lall hit a corner three, assisted by Holmes, before Miryne came down and nailed a triple of his own as the Riders ran away with the tie late.
Cheshire’s star guard LaQuincey Rideau was the third player thrown out of the game, picking up his fifth and final foul in the fourth.
On the other end, Riders’ veteran Conner Washington stepped up in the absence of Mackenzie and Allen, taking a charge on Cam Christon and finishing a layup through heavy contact with four minutes remaining.
Lall put the exclamation point on the performance with an explosive one handed jam, sending the Riders fans into raptures and sealing the win.
The Riders are back in action on Sunday, heading to London to take on the table topping Lions.