Wat­son flurry helps to keep Rocks in con­tention for the league ti­tle

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FINAL SAY - MARK WOODS

GLAS­GOW Rocks re­main in the thick of the Bri­tish Bas­ket­ball League race af­ter grind­ing out a pre­cious 78-70 vic­tory over Lon­don Li­ons last night at the Emi­rates Arena which keeps the Scots in third place and within reach of ri­vals Le­ices­ter Rid­ers and New­cas­tle Ea­gles.

Neil Wat­son pro­vided the spark, hit­ting nine of his game-high 28 points in the fourth quar­ter as the Scots com­pleted a come­back from 11 down with an em­phatic late flour­ish de­spite the in­jury-en­forced ab­sence of Gareth Mur­ray. With the pres­sure on, the hosts re­cov­ered from a lack­lus­tre sec­ond pe­riod by forc­ing mis­takes and find­ing space on of­fense and that, claimed coach Ster­ling Davis, was vi­tal ahead of what will be a crit­i­cal clash with Le­ices­ter on Fri­day.

“We made some big shots down the stretch,” the Amer­i­can said. “Neil Wat­son hit three of them and stepped up big but col­lec­tively the guys came out in the sec­ond half with fo­cus. You could see in their eyes they wanted to get the win.”

With Le­ices­ter ham­mer­ing Manch­ester Giants 81-54 to stay two points clear at the top, Glas­gow looked poised to eas­ily keep track when they took an early lead but Zaire Tay­lor, who scored a game-best 26 points for Lon­don, ig­nited a 9-0 run that pushed the vis­i­tors 35-24 in front as half-time loomed.

But with Kieron Achara and Lewis Thomas each adding 15 points and seven re­bounds, the Rocks capped a rally with an 8-2 burst in the fourth that al­lowed Davis’ men to draw level on losses with a sud­denly vul­ner­a­ble New­cas­tle.

“There was pres­sure there with the way the stand­ings are now but you look at it as a lifeline for us ev­ery time that hap­pens,” Davis said. “We have to stay in the hunt.”

Else­where, Cale­do­nia Pride’s hopes of reach­ing March’s WBBL Tro­phy fi­nal in Glas­gow were ef­fec­tively ended in a 69-50 de­feat to hold­ers Sh­effield Hat­ters 200 Ren­field Street, Glas­gow G2 3QB. email: sport@the­herald.co.uk. Tel 0141 302 7156 Head of Sport Ste­wart Weir which left the Scots bot­tom of their group while Scot­land guard Dee Hay­ward hit 23 points as Le­ices­ter de­feated Cardiff 95-53 to book a last-four spot. Ed­in­burgh Kool Kats sealed their sev­enth Scot­tish women’s league ti­tle by beat­ing Tay­side 72-53.

RE­SULTS

BBL: Glas­gow Rocks 78 Lon­don Li­ons 70, Ply­mouth Raiders 83 Leeds Force 73, Manch­ester Giants 54 Le­ices­ter Rid­ers 81. BBL Tro­phy quar­ter-fi­nal: Cheshire Phoenix 90 Bris­tol Fly­ers 71. WBBL Tro­phy: Sh­effield Hat­ters 69 Cale­do­nia Pride 50.

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