Basketball: Dougie delivers late Leopards win
PUBLISHED: 09:00 28 November 2017
Captain Dougie Bennett buried a jump shot with three seconds remaining to give Levett Essex Leopards an 82-80 victory at Liverpool on Saturday.
The Big Cats had overcome a poor first period to lead 71-62 at the final break, but were forced to hold off a furious fightback from the home side in the fourth quarter before recording their fourth win in six league games.
Bennett led his side with 19 points, while Will Ashby finished with an impressive 16 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for Thomas Baker’s side. Jamie Hayes made it a treble for Brentwood-based players with a 17-point, 12-rebound double-double.
A delighted Baker said: “We can definitely play better than that, but we did what we needed to against a side who are going to challenge for promotion this season.”
Leopards certainly didn’t have luck on their side, with David Moyo, Jamie Rodwell and Wes Moore all missing and Korry Callum, Caleb Taberner and Jerrel Laine all suffering injuries to go with Kevin Moyo’s damaged ankle which restricted his minutes.
The Big Cats struggled in the first period, going into the opening break trailing 29-21. But they opened the second quarter with a 12-0 run.
A timeout by home coach Delme Herriman worked wonders for his side who reeled off 12 straight points to lead 43-36, before Leopards finished the half on a 10-2 run capped by a Callum lay-up to lead 46-45 going into the locker room at half-time.
Kevin Moyo opened the third-period scoring and that quarter proved to be Leopards’ best spell of the game as they outscored the hosts 25-17, with Ashby sending them into the final break 71-62 ahead.
The Big Cats quickly got into foul trouble in the fourth period, though, and three straight baskets from Uche Umweke gave the hosts a 78-77 lead heading into the final 90 seconds.
Callum hit a big trey to put the Big Cats back up by two, only for Kaphei Ullet-Waul to then get Liverpool back on level terms with 19 seconds on the clock.
But Bennett’s shot proved to be the winner and some tough defence following a Liverpool timeout saw the Big Cats seal the win.
Baker’s team now have a weekend off as they attempt to regain full fitness ahead of a trip to London Greenhouse on Sunday December 10 and a home game at the Brentwood Centre against Middlesex LTBC on December 17, tip-off 4pm.