Worcester Wolves secured a hat-trick of consecutive victories after surviving a rollercoaster encounter against Plymouth Raiders at the University of Worcester Arena on Friday.
Wolves roared back from a double-figure first quarter deficit to lead by half-time. An indifferent third period saw them again fall behind before recovering to eventually emerge as 97-90 victors.
It took more than two minutes for Worcester to get on the scoreboard. By midway through the opening quarter they were already looking up at an 18-6 Plymouth lead.
New signing Robert Gilchrist was introduced to home fans with several trips to the foul line as Wolves toiled to keep in touch, trailing 17-28 by the end of the period.
Dallin Bachynski sank a rare three-pointer to spark a revival. Six points apiece for Trayvon Palmer and George Beamon, coupled with swarming defence, dragged matters back to 35-35 four minutes before the interval.
Bachynski rejected an attack from his fellow seven-footer Zak Wells, setting up a move-ahead triple from Alex Navajas.
The sides were once more tied at 44-44 in the first minute of the second half. The big man excitement continued when Bachynski thundered past defenders for a powerful one-handed dunk.
As the third quarter wound down Raiders were again in front at 66-58, before a Gilchrist basket and a skilful Palmer three as he fell backwards closed the scores.
Elvisi Dusha was also on target from distance as the final quarter began with a 66-66 tie. The back-and-forth continued with another Wells drive edging Plymouth 82-81 ahead with four minutes to go.
Ashton Khan danced to the hoop to regain Worcester’s advantage. Unable to curtail Khan’s speed, Raiders were forced to repeatedly foul Wolves’ captain, allowing him to seal the win from the free-throw line.
Coach Paul James declared his relief at securing the victory, saying:
“Plymouth like to run. We had a plan to slow them down and that’s something we clearly didn’t do in the first quarter. But we got better as the game went on. Plymouth just wouldn’t go away. I’m thankful that we got the win.”
In a night of balanced scoring Palmer led the way with 19 points, followed by Bachynski with 15 points and Gilchrist on 14. Khan, Beamon and Navajas counted down with 12, 11 and 10 points respectively.
Gilchrist also tallied eight rebounds and four blocked shots, drawing praise from James for an imposing debut, saying: “Robert only arrived today but was able to make an immediate impact. He did great things for the team, especially defensively.”
Wolves will be back at the University of Worcester Arena next Friday 08 December (tip off 7.30) for the first leg of their BBL Cup semi-final against Sheffield Sharks.
James added: “Everyone is really excited about the chance to make a final just up the road in Birmingham. We’ll prepare well and get Robert more into the mix.
“The crowd today were great in keeping the faith and giving us the energy we needed to get over the line. We’ll obviously be looking to get a decent lead to take up to Sheffield for the second leg.”
Tickets for the home leg can be found here.
Match report by Colin Taylor.
Image credit Razorlight Imagery.