Levett Essex Leopards see play-off hopes hit

PUBLISHED: 14:00 16 January 2017

Mike Martin produces a slam dunk for Essex Leopards against Team Northumbria (pic Paul Phillips)

Mike Martin produces a slam dunk for Essex Leopards against Team Northumbria (pic Paul Phillips)


Levett Essex Leopards 72 Team Northumbria 80

A depleted Levett Essex Leopards side saw their play-off hopes take a hit as they went down against league leaders Team Northumbria at the Brentwood Centre last night.

With Steve Ogunjimi suspended following his ejection in the pre-Christmas win against Lancashire, Roger Malpass took over as coach, and his side were missing starting point guard Perry Lawson and back-up forward Caleb Tabanar.

The Big Cats began well as AJ Roberts hit a triple to launch a 9-2 start, but that was as good as it got for Malpass’ team and despite Jamie Hayes also scoring from long range, they trailed 20-18 at the first break.

Dougie Bennett and Darrell Bethune both hit a pair of threes in the second period as they kept in touch, before a pair of free-throws from Blaine Freckleton sent the visitors into the lockerroom with a 39-36 half-time lead.

The visitors opened the second half with a 7-2 run, but three points apiece from Hayes and Mike Martin in an 8-0 run saw Leopards tie the game at 46-46 and Bennett sunk a trey to put the home side 49-48 ahead with three minutes remaining in the third period.

The visitors replied with a 13-6 run to take a 61-55 lead into the final break and made it an eight-point game before Martin kept his side in the hunt with six straight points.

Bennett hit his fourth treble of the game to cut the deficit to 68-64 with just under five minutes to go, but that was as close as it got as the visitors showed why they’re top of the league as they comfortably closed out the win.

Martin again led the Big Cats with a 21-point, 11-rebound double-double, with Bennett adding 16 points.

Roberts, who in Lawson’s absence played all 40 minutes, finished with 13 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds.

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