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Essex & Herts Leopards suffer two defeats as they prepare to take on Loughborough Riders

PUBLISHED: 13:00 08 January 2020

Lartey in action against Solent Kestrels. Picture: Dave Ryan

Lartey in action against Solent Kestrels. Picture: Dave Ryan

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Essex & Herts Leopards head into Saturday's game against Loughborough Riders at Oaklands College knowing they are in a relegation dog-fight after a pair of defeats over the weekend.

The Big Cats staged a late comeback at Barking Abbey on Saturday but still slipped to an 83-75 defeat before an excellent first half performance against Solent Kestrels was not enough to prevent a 113-79 loss in front of a big crowd at the Brentwood Centre.

Saturday's loss at Barking leaves the Big Cats joint bottom of the table with Liverpool.

Jerrelle Okoro led Baker's team against Barking, hitting 11 of his 19 points from the foul line and adding four rebounds, while Ray Akpofore finished with a massive 12-point, 15-rebound double-double.

Oaklands youngster Toby Gastsldi-Davies hit four treys on his way to 11 points and Prince Lartey had a ten-point, ten-assist double-double.

The Big Cats only led briefly in the game and went into the first break trailing 24-15 before reducing the deficit to one with a 20-15 second period.

But a disastrous third quarter saw the visitors outscored 28-11 to leave them trailing 68-46 at the final break.

Lartey got the gap down to five with 98 seconds on the clock but Norton's driving lay-up broke the visitors' scoring run and Abbey held on.

The following day, Lartey impressed again against Solent to finish with 25 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

Captain Chuck Duru finished with 14 points and five rebounds while Okoro added 11 points in 16 minutes.

Solent led 31-23 at the first break but treys from Lartey, Okoro, Ketiri and Duru cut Kestrels' lead to one on several occasions and a lay-up from Lartey made it 54-51 going into the locker room.

However, with Okoro leaving the game following an offensive foul, Kestrels went on a 24-6 run to close out the quarter and effectively wrap up the win.

Loughborough will arrive at Oaklands in joint sixth place with an 8-5 record and having ran out 94-66 winners against the Big Cats earlier this season.

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