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Big Cats beaten late on

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Poor rebounding in the final minute cost Leopards as they went down 64-61 at Leeds Carnegie.

The Big Cats failed to grab a defensive rebound three times in the final minute as Carnegie struggled at the foul line.

The visitors had the chance to win the game with five minutes remaining as Kris Clark broke free, but his lay-up failed to connect – although he did appear to be fouled – and Josh McGinn scored on the buzzer to seal the win.

Howard Crawford led Leopards with a 22-point, 12-rebound double-double, with Clark adding 16 points and six assists.

The Big Cats were out-rebounded 38-26 and that difference proved crucial as the hosts chalked up their fifth straight league win to move up to fifth spot.

The visitors started well, with player-coach Robert Youngblood an early substitution for Lawrence Brown as Branimir Mikulic twice scored on him, and Youngblood drained a trey to put his side up by four points with 4:46 on the clock.

That lead grew to 23-18 at the first break, and the Big Cats were still up by three with four second period minutes gone when Youngblood called a timeout before the hosts closed the half strongly to go into the locker room tied at 34-34.

A poor start to the second half saw Leeds take a six-point lead at the midway stage of the third period, but back-to-back treys from Clark tied the game again.

That proved to be only a temporary respite as Leeds opened a seven-point lead before Ronnie Baker made it a three-point game heading into the final break as he went coast-to-coast in the space of five seconds to beat the buzzer with a lay-in, leaving the Big Cats down 53-50.

Crawford opened the fourth period scoring, and with six minutes remaining Carnegie coach Matt Newby called a timeout with the Big Cats leading by three.

Mikulic tied the game with a dunk, with 2:51 on the clock, but Clark converted an and-one on the break to restore Leopards’ lead.

Former Leopard Rowell Graham twice split a pair of free-throws, scoring the first and then missing the second with Leeds grabbing the board before McGinn missed a pair at the line, only for the hosts to have the benefit of the jump ball as Ivankovic and Crawford both got the rebound.

Clark stole the ball from the inbound but appeared to be fouled as he went to the basket and Carnegie escaped with the win.

Mikulic led Carnegie with 20 points and ten rebounds with Armand Anebo chipping in with ten points.

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