Murray inspires Rocks to victory

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An emphatic fourth quarter performance from Gareth Murray and his fellow Rocks saw them overcome the London Lions 82-73 at the Emirates Arena.

The result marked the home side’s third win on the bounce, meanwhile ending their opponent’s run of five victories in a row.

The Rocks came into the game aiming to avenge the slender 80-77 loss at the hands of the Lions earlier in the season.

The opening minutes of the game were a sloppy affair with many passes going astray and a number of shots being missed by both sides.

From the off the Lions played high pressure defence, forcing turnovers from the Rocks early on.

There was very little to separate the teams throughout the first quarter – a scenario which continued for much of the game – and the game was level at 17-17 going into the second period.

While the Lions’ high pressure worked effectively at times, it was not always the case as the Rocks found themselves with lots of space on the court on a number of occasions providing themselves with easy baskets.

The scrappy nature of the game continued through much of the second quarter with turnovers and loose balls occurring frequently.

A sweet alley-oop from Harrison to Murray for the dunk provided a classy close to the half as the Rocks trailed the Lions 37-39, as the visitors failed to register a single point from the field in the last 4:17 of the 2nd quarter.

The game saw five lead changes in the opening 2:30 of the 3rd quarter, with the biggest lead to this point being a mere five points in favour of the Lions.

Daniel Northern stepped up his game an extra notch in the third period with 10pts and 6/6 from the line.

It remained a closely contested game throughout the third with the Lions taking the slenderest 56-55 lead into the final quarter.

It was the fourth quarter that proved to be the real turning point in the game.

Up to the midway point in the quarter the game was much the same as it had been throughout – a closely fought contest.

But a personal run of 8-0 for Gareth Murray lit up the game and the crowd.

The Rocks did not look back and went on a run of 19-8 in the final five minutes of the game.

Lions’ coach Vince Macaulay will have been horrified looking at the stats as his side went 1/18 from three point land – a statistic that ultimately cost them the game.

Northern led the line once again for the Rocks with 26pts and 8 rebounds, EJ put up 16pts and 8 assists, while Murray contributed 14pts.

Brown topped the scoring for the Lions with 14, Martin had 12pts and 8 rebounds while Knutson got a double-double 10pts/11 rebounds.

Sterling Davis was complimentary of his team’s defensive performance throughout the game: “I thought we did a good job. We played a zone for forty minutes and the guys really believed in it and we did a good job of executing, communicating on the rotations and just stuck with the game plan. I thought that was good on our part and so I’m always happy to hold a team to 73 points, we haven’t done that really all season so I’m happy about that too.”

It wasn’t just on defence he was impressed: “I thought it was a good win for us. I challenge the guys to work on getting quality wins and I thought that that was one of those chances right there and we took advantage of it. We’ve got to use every win as a momentum booster for the next one right now.”

Kierran Allardice

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