Raiders hold off spirited Phoenix rally in road win
Cheshire Phoenix...93 Plymouth Raiders...100
MARJON Plymouth Raiders got back on track with a solid win at Cheshire Phoenix in the BBL Championship last night.
Victory improves coach Gavin Love's team to 14-6 in fourth position in the standings, narrowly behind 14-5 Surrey Heat, who remain third and vitally visit the Pavilions in two weeks on Saturday, February 16.
Before then, visit 13-8 Glasgow Rocks, who sit just below them in fifth position, this Sunday (5pm).
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Michael Ojo (pictured top) was reinserted into Raiders' starting-five at shooting-guard yesterday and scored a game-high 40 points on 15/22 shooting.
Ojo returned to action last weekend after a month out with a fractured eye socket, but was rusty from three-point line.
Yesterday, he was back in his flow and hit a flawless 3/3 threes and added 7/7 free-throws.
Raiders led Phoenix by three, 72-69 late in the third quarter before a 10-2 run built a nine-point, 81-72 gap.
Raiders centre Matt Schneck sparked it with back-to-back baskets before rookie Javarris Barnett completed a three-point play after being fouled while scoring.
Ojo capped the streak with a three after a steal by Raiders forward Colin O'Reilly, who alongside Schneck was playing against the club he left last summer.
Jets slashed the deficit to two, 82-80 early in the fourth quarter on a pair of free-throws from wing-man Jerome Gumbs, who had a memorable spell at Raiders in 2010/11, Love's first year in charge.
But Gumbs was immediately the villian when he allowed Raiders guard Drew Lasker to steal possession from him and set up a Barnett bucket to make it 84-80.
Ojo next made a steal, picking off a slack Alif Bland pass and scored to make it 86-80.
Phoenix weren't done yet and rallied again, making it 90-88 inside the final four minutes on 2/2 free-throws from guard Chez Marks, who like Gumbs was at Raiders in 2010/11.
But Marks like Gumbs immediately fell asleep and Ojo intercepted his loose pass and scored to make it 92-88.
Schneck (2/2 free-throws) and Ojo (6/6 free-throws) ensured Raiders scored their final eight points from the foul line and sealed the win.
In all, Raiders helped force 17 Phoenix turnovers and outscored their hosts 25-13 in points off turnovers. Phoenix also shot a wasteful 4/18 three-pointers.
There wasn't much between the teams in the first 30 minutes.
Raiders trailed by as many as six points, 18-12 in the first quarter before they grabbed a 25-20 lead after a 13-2 run. Ojo and Schneck were the ringleaders combining for nine of the points.
Scorers: Raiders: Ojo 40 points (15/22 field-goals), Schneck 23 (9/14), Brown 13 (6/12), Barnett 13 (6/12), Schreiber 5 (1/7), O'Reilly 4 (2/3), Lasker 2 (1/4), Williams DNP, Hall DNP; Cheshire: Marks 31 (9/18), Myers 20 (8/12), Bland 18 (9/12)
Leading rebounder: Raiders: Schneck 8; Cheshire: Gumbs 8
Leader in assists: Raiders: Brown 5; Cheshire: Gumbs 6
Field-Goal Percentage: Raiders: 54 per cent (40/74 attempts); Cheshire: 51 per cent (36/70)
Three-Point Percentage: Raiders: 38 per cent (3/8 attempts); Cheshire: 22 per cent (4/18)
Free-Throw Percentage: Raiders: 81 per cent (17/22 attempts); Cheshire: 65 per cent (17/26)
BBL Trophy Quarter-Finals: Surrey 66 Leicester 82
BBL Championship: Glasgow 87 Cheshire 69, London 88 Mersey 79, Manchester 75 Worcester 88, Sheffield 88 Durham 70, Leicester 84 Mersey 54, Durham 65 Newcastle 106, Glasgow 69 London 66