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Disappointing weekend for the Essex Leopards

PUBLISHED: 12:00 01 November 2017

Levett Essex Leopards Dougie Bennett in action against the Thames Valley Cavaliers (Pic: Paul Phillips)

Levett Essex Leopards Dougie Bennett in action against the Thames Valley Cavaliers (Pic: Paul Phillips)

Paul Phillips

Levett Essex Leopards go into a week without a game looking to regroup after a weekend which saw disappointing results in both the league and National Cup.

The Big Cats went down to their first NBL Division Two loss of the campaign as a poor final period saw them lose 97-79 at Sussex Bears before they went out of the cup with a 93-65 loss against Thames Valley Cavaliers.

“We didn’t play well enough this weekend,” Coach Thomas Baker said.

“We need to work on things over the next couple of weeks and show a big improvement when they go to Thames Valley.”

Saturday’s game saw Leopards shoot an incredible 24 more field goal attempts than the Bears, but converting only 32 percent of them as a 33-12 final period saw the home side chalk up the win.

Dougie Bennett led the Big Cats with 19 points and five assists while John Sodipo had seven rebounds and as many assists to go with his 14 points.

The teams shared 38 first period points, and a Jamie Hayes free-throw put his side 30-24 ahead three minutes into the second quarter.

But a Bud Johnston trey put Bears ahead by one at the midway stage of the period and a lay-up from Daren Mason – who led his team with 40 points and 16 rebounds – helped the hosts lead 45-38 going into the half-time break.

The visitors still trailed by seven after four minutes into the third period, but Shodip launched a 14-3 run capped by a Will Ashby basket to lead by a point with three minutes on the clock.

Ruben Saiz Colon’s jump shot put the visitors 67-64 ahead at the final break but that was as good as it got for the Big Cats and Mason’s tip-in with two fourth period minutes gone gave Bears a lead they would never lose.

It was a similar tale the following day as Bennett opened with five points to put his side ahead, and Ashby put them 9-2 ahead before a 14-2 run put the big-spending Cavaliers into a lead they would never lose.

Bennett again led the Big Cats with 19 points, Ashby adding 12 points and four assists, while youngster Jordon George finished with ten points and four assists.

The Big Cats played chase up for the rest of the game, trailing 54-40 at half-time and 73-51at the final break before Cavaliers wrapped things up with a 21-14 fourth period.

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