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Leopards look to sink Lituanica

PUBLISHED: 08:00 04 December 2015

Will Ashby in action for Leopards against Kent (pic: Paul Phillips)

Will Ashby in action for Leopards against Kent (pic: Paul Phillips)

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Big Cats bid for third straight win

Essex Leopards' Tom Martin attacks against Leicester Warriors (pic: Paul Phillips)Essex Leopards' Tom Martin attacks against Leicester Warriors (pic: Paul Phillips)

Levett Essex Leopards will look to make it three wins on the bounce when they travel to London Lituanica on Sunday.

After a win double against Kent Crusaders and Leicester Warriors last weekend, Steve Ogunjimi’s side will face a tough test against the newly promoted Lithuanians who have won their opening six league games.

The two sides met at the Brentwood Centre in the National Trophy in September and the Big Cats won a thriller 71-68 thanks mainly to 21 points from Justin Hitchman.

Having failed to qualify for the knockout stage of the Trophy, the Newham-based side have quickly adjusted to life in the top flight and are currently third in the table with games in hand over the top two.

Leopards avenged their Trophy defeat by Kent Crusaders with a comfortable 68-51 road win, on Saturday.

The Big Cats gave up a double-digit lead in September’s loss, but were in no mood for a repeat at Medway Park as they led throughout after starting with a 9-0 run.

Ogunjimi gave all 12 of his roster at least eight minutes of action, including debutant Connor Stuart, who had seven points, four rebounds and two blocks in 15 minutes and looks to have solved many of the Big Cats’ defensive problems.

Will Ashby led the visitors with 16 points and five rebounds, while Justin Hitchman and Ladi Brown had 11 points apiece, adding eight and six rebounds respectively. Albert Margai finished with seven assists while Tosin Oyelese added six points to his 10 boards despite only playing 15 minutes.

The Brentwood Centre fans got extra value for money on Sunday as Leopards defeated Leicester Warriors 78-74 in overtime.

The home side trailed for virtually all of normal time before a three-point play from Hitchman tied the game at 60-60 with 51 seconds left.

The same player split a pair of free-throws to cap a 9-0 run and put Leopards ahead by one heading into the final 30 seconds.

Carl Pearson drained a three to put the visitors back up by two, but Brown levelled things off an Ashby assist with 13 seconds remaining and Leopards played tough defence to send the game into overtime.

Warriors scored the first point of the extra period, but Brown drained a trey to launch a 12-3 run which effectively wrapped the game up for the hosts.

Ashby completed a good weekend with 16 points, while Brown added 14 and Courtney Van Beest finished with a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double.

Leopards return to the Brentwood Centre on Sunday December 20 when Westminster Warriors visit.

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