Glasgow Rocks 60 (9,27,40) (Northern 16, Harrison 13, Murray 11)
Leicester Riders 70 (22,39,58) (Couisnard 18, Rowe 10, Anderson/Calvo/Sullivan 9)
Leicester Riders finished the year in style with a 60-70 defeat of Glasgow Rocks at the Emirates Arena live on BBL TV. It leaves the Riders in a strong position, just one win behind leaders Worcester Wolves with two games in hand, having won five games in a row and with five straight road wins dating back to the start of October. The win gave Riders the head-to-head, and it was a first defeat in four outings for the Rocks.
Jay Couisnard was the star with 18 points and 8 rebounds, with Anthony Rowe posting a double-double of 10 points and 12 boards. Execution was the difference in this game, as the Rocks had 15 more shots from the field than their opponents, but shot with an accuracy of just 31% (22/70) compared to 44% for the Riders (24/55).
The Riders had a dominant start to the game and never looked back, although they did have to withstand a fourth quarter surge from the hosts. They scored the first ten points, four for Couisnard, and didn’t allow their hosts to register for nearly four minutes. That lead became 9-22 after ten minutes, and was maintained up to the half as Jamell Anderson opened the second stanza with a three-pointer. Couisnard added another and the lead reached 14-34 on Rowe’s basket, a first half peak. The Rocks did respond before the break, Antonio DiMaria scoring five in a row as they had a strong finish by scoring the last six points and shutting the Riders out for two minutes.
And they looked to get back to within single digits after the break, narrowing it to 40-50 on Sterling Davis’s three-pointer. But Couisnard was there to keep the hosts at arm’s length, with a triple of his own, and when Harrison Gamble added another the lead was stretched once more as the Rocks didn’t manage to score in the last four and a half minutes of the third quarter, heading into the fourth at 40-58.
But that was reversed in dramatic fashion as the Rocks sought to rescue the game in the decisive fourth quarter. They opened with a 14-1 surge, by far their best spell of the game, as EJ Harrison’s ‘and-one’ play got them back to 52-59. Jorge Calvo provided some reprieve for the Riders, with a three-pointer, but Harrison matched that and the Rocks were as close as they had been since the opening of the game at 60-64 heading into the final three minutes.
However, the Riders showed their Championship credentials as they were successful in suppressing their hosts down the stretch. The Rocks didn’t score in the final three minutes, with the Riders forcing turnovers and eight consecutive missed shots. Sullivan gave them a cushion, and Rowe, Calvo and Anderson saw it out from the free-throw line.