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Essex Leopards shot down by Rockets

PUBLISHED: 11:30 30 January 2017

AJ Roberts attacks the basket for Essex Leopards

AJ Roberts attacks the basket for Essex Leopards

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Reading 89 Essex Leopards 74

Levett Essex Leopards could not build on a good start at Reading as they fell to defeat against the in-form Rockets last night.

Travelling without captain Mike Martin, due to a leg injury, the Big Cats began well as AJ Roberts opened the scoring with a three-point shot.

That set the tone for the American guard, who would finish with 29 points, six rebounds and four assists, and a jump shot from Jamie Hayes, from a Roberts’ assist, put Leopards 11-7 up at the midway point of the first quarter.

The hosts then edged 16-15 ahead, but new signing Alex Scotland-Williamson sent the Big Cats into the first break with a 21-17 lead and Perry Lawson drained a three-point shot after the restart to open up a five-point gap.

But it proved a false dawn for Leopards as the home side rallied with an 11-2 run saw to regain the lead and, despite a dunk from Scotland-Williamson, they went into half time with a 42-35 advantage.

Roberts and Darrell Bethune scored at the start of the second half, as Leopards began well, but the foul count grew and they were unable to get any closer than four points.

A buzzer-beating lay-up from Bethune made it 65-55 at the final break and Justin Hitchman’s and-one cut the gap to eight with six minutes left.

But Scotland-Williamson reacted angrily to a foul and was himself fouled out on a technical, effectively ending the hopes of the Big Cats as they slipped to a third straight loss and Reading made it 10 wins in a row.

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