Match report by Alan Caldwell
Only two players in double digit scoring tonight for the Rocks including a game high 23 for Ronald Delph, but it wasn’t enough tonight as the Raiders win this one as part of a double header for these two teams throughout the weekend, who meet again in just two days time at the Emirates Arena.
Gareth Murray and his team were hoping to improve on their recent upturn in form however, it wasn’t meant to be as the in-form Raiders jumped back to winning ways which now sees them having won six out of their last seven games.
Despite out scoring the Raiders in the 1st and 3rd quarter it wasn’t enough to bring the Rocks home a win in this one.
Ronald Delph opened up the scoring for the Rocks with a quick seven points in the first four minutes followed up by two big threes from Gareth Murray, however the Raiders had a reply for each basket as the teams went back and forth early doors.
The first quarter saw both teams make a slow start to the game as they where both easing their way into the contest with the pace of baskets slowing down.
With two minutes left to go in the quarter, former North Carolina star, Christian Keeling pulled up for two points to give the Rocks a four point lead early in the game but again that deficit was cut down to one by Will Neighbour who made a three.
Seven points from Delph, six from Murray and Keeling adding four saw the Rocks take a 16-17 lead after the first quarter.
The visiting Rocks kept the pressure on the Plymouth Raiders defensively, however a cold streak in the first four minutes of the 2nd quarter saw the Raiders go on a 7-0 run.
However, again like the first quarter the trailing team had a reply as it was the Rocks turn to retake the lead as Malcolm, Mpondo and Isa Brandon hit three 3 pointers in a row, just when the Raiders looked like pulling away.
Going into the interval Plymouth’s Will Neighbour found his shot, hitting two 3 pointers in quick succession and his third on the night to give him a game high 11 points at the break. This saw his team take the largest lead of the game so far, going into the interval up 33-26.
Into the third quarter now which saw the Raiders open up with a 6-0 run to extend their lead to 13. It was the exact opposite of what the Rocks would’ve been hoping for however, there was still plenty of fight left in the team as a big slam by Julius Van Sauers spurred a comeback, as Delph caught on fire, scoring 11 straight points which saw him hit a beautiful corner three to beat the shot clock and tie the game up at 41 apiece.
The quarter ended with a 49-46 lead to the Raiders, however this was the Rocks best scoring quarter so far, out scoring Plymouth 20-16, setting up a really close game going into the 4th quarter.
The last 10 minutes of this game was a tense affair as both teams continued to battle back and forth and the lead switching both ways early on in the 4th quarter.
The game was still tied 60-60 with a minute left to go, but three made free throws from Neighbour after a foul on a three point attempt and other missed free throw attempts by both teams, saw the Raiders narrowly come away with a 63-60 win as these two teams get ready to meet again on Sunday for a rematch.
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