Basketball: Lewis leads way for Leopards
PUBLISHED: 14:30 21 December 2017
Shaq Lewis led the way with 29 points as Levett Essex Leopards made it three straight wins with a hard-fought 94-89 victory over Middlesex LTBC on Sunday.
A big crowd at the Brentwood Centre saw Lewis have the best game of his Leopards’ career as they wrapped up their 2017 fixtures with a key victory to keep them in the promotion race.
Lewis added seven rebounds in just 22 minutes, while Will Ashby finished with 22 points, eight assists and four boards in 38 minutes.
Kevin Moyo had a season-high 17 points with captain Dougie Bennett adding 16 points, with both players also dishing out four assists.
In a high-tempo and physical game, Leopards held off a late comeback from a Middlesex side rebuilt after recent problems which saw them forfeit two games and add American Jamal Felix who led their scoring with 22 points in as many minutes, seven rebounds and three assists.
Ultimately, Leopards’ ability on the fast break proved key as they outscored the visitors 37-12 in that category.
Bennett and Ashby both hit treys before Moyo converted a three-point play as they rushed into a 10-2 lead, but the visitors fought back to take their first lead with two minutes left, before a trey from Ashby and scores by Caleb Taberner and Lewis put the Big Cats 29-26 up at the first break.
Middlesex opened the second period with six straight points before Lewis tied things with a trey and the quarter proved a battle of attrition.
The hosts looked set for a good half time lead at 50-45 going into the final 30 seconds, but managed to turn the ball over twice to allow Middlesex to cut the gap to one.
Ashby drained from long range to open the second half but the visitors led for much of the third period and Felix put them 70-65 up going into the final three minutes before Lewis converted another dunk and hit a lay-up and Ashby tied thing at 70-70 with a single free-throw.
Lewis continued his one-man show to hit Leopards’ first 11 points of the fourth quarter as they opened up an 81-73 lead and a trey from Bennett made a it a 12-point lead going into the final three minutes.
Felix hit back-to-back triples and made it a five-point game with 70 seconds remaining, but Lewis broke the run before Middlesex made it 90-89 with 35 seconds to go.
Moyo hit two late free-throws and a jump shot to seal the Leopards win.