The Riders fell to the Sheffield Sharks 91-84 on the road.
It was an intensely fought battle from wire to wire, but the Riders could never grab the lead despite bringing their deficit back to a possession several times. Miryne Thomas led the team’s efforts with 21 points, backed by Jaren Holmes’ 16.
Devearl Ramsey went off for his season-high of 22 points for Sheffield, taking charge to hit key shots throughout to keep the Sharks narrowly ahead. They shot 52% from the field and 40% from three in a hot shooting night.
Turnovers ultimately cost the Riders, who gave the ball away 15 times to the Sharks’ 10. They couldn’t get it going from deep either, hitting 23% from three against Sheffield’s sharpshooting clinic.
Starting for the first time this season, Mo Walker got to work from the tip, playing physically inside to establish the Riders’ offence in the paint. He and Thomas found success down low early, combining for 11 points by the first commercial timeout.
The Sharks led 21-20 after one, led by seven points from star scorer Jalon Pipkins who had his team up by as much as six in the quarter. But Samuel Idowu hit the Riders’ first three of the night to close the score by the buzzer.
The Sharks continued to lead from the front in the second, as big man Bennet Koch drew two and-one plays to rebuild the host’s lead.
Sheffield found success running the floor, as point guard Devearl Ramsey leaked out on the fast break to log 11 halftime points. Kimbal Mackenzie ran the Riders’ show off the bench to keep them in it, scoring eight in the second quarter, and made free throws to cut it to seven to end the half, the Riders still with work to do.
Thomas put the team on his shoulders out of the half to keep the team in it. He scored eight in five minutes, including two threes, responding to big Sharks plays to start the third.
The Riders clawed their way back into it, Jaren Holmes finding his range to spearhead the comeback, but the Sharks kept their noses in front by making timely threes throughout the period. Ramsey hit two of them, keeping up with Thomas’ scoring as the game approached its final stanza.
Representing the theme of the game so far, Leicester looked like they’d be entering the fourth within a possession after Mackenzie’s score inside. But Pipkins’ miraculous full-court heave went through to make it 68-62.
Sheffield exploded in the fourth, relentlessly hitting their deep ball to build their first double-digit lead of the tie.
Trailing in the turnover battle 15-7 midway through the period, the Riders found a way to force steals of their own to get back into the game. Holmes and Lall intercepted passes on back-to-back possessions to trigger fastbreaks, resulting in four important points.
But as was the case throughout, Leicester couldn’t get over the hump, Ramsey hitting shots in response to earn Sheffield the win.
The Riders are back in action next week, taking on the Manchester Giants at home on November 25.