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Report: Bristol Flyers 75-90 Leicester Riders

Bristol Flyers will need to overturn a 15-point deficit if they are to progress to the BBL play-off final.

Despite Rohndell Goodwin leading the way with 19 points and four rebounds, Flyers could not grab a first leg advantage. Flyers will travel to Leicester for the second leg of the semi-finals needing to win by 16 points to advance.

Box Score

What happened

The first period opened at a furious pace with both teams intending to show they were ready for the semi-finals. Riders started the first quarter by scoring on their first two possessions with Shane Walker and Pierre Hampton finding the hoop inside.

Flyers responded with Goodwin, getting to the line and splitting the free-throws. Jordan Davis, who would go on to notch eight points and five assists in the first half, then stroked it from the three-point line to tie the game and Brandon Boggs gave the highlight reverse slam dunk.

The home team were clicking offensively in the early goings, as they were shooting 70% mid-way through the opening period. Despite Flyers' hot start, Riders were in the lead.

The visitors struggled from beyond the arc, going only 3 for 9 from three, but were able to capitalise inside by shooting 87% from two-point range for the quarter.  Leicester's high percentage shots gave them a 22-25 lead at the end of the first.

Riders came into the second driving towards the hoop looking for inside buckets, only to see their attempt rejected by Mike Vigor. The block by the Flyers' captain inspired Adam Weary, who streamed down court to connect on a long two-point jumper.

Riders regained their lead with a lay-up on the following possession. The visitors looked energised as they shared the first-half minutes around, and the highest scoring bench in the league delivered; Riders' substitutes contributed 17 first-half points.

Leicester tried to make Flyers' defence work by moving the ball quickly, but Flyers held strong and forced the turnover that resulted in a Goodwin three-pointer.

The ball found Goodwin again in the corner yet could not find the bottom of the net, but Daniel Edozie fought hard inside to secure the offensive board and the baby hook in the lane for two points.

Riders countered with a seven-point run of their own to wrestle back a slender lead; Kiefer Douse converting two free-throws from the foul line, Tyler Bernadini splashing from behind the arc and JR Holder scoring inside.

And though Davis would retaliate with a lay-up, Trayvonn Wright came straight back and dunked the ball with authority to give Riders a 40-45 half time lead.

The second-half began with Riders finding Holder in the corner for three points to push their lead to eight. Hampton then pushed the visitors' lead to double digits with a driving, spin move in the lane for the lay-up.

On the following play, Davis froze the defence with a hesitation dribble and score inside. But Flyers failed to score again for multiple possessions and let the deficit grow to 13, forcing Coach Kapoulas to call for time.

Bristol could stop the clock but they couldn't stop the defending champion Riders, who continued to find success on the offensive end. Despite a long three-pointer from Weary and a power dunk by Malcolm Delpeche, Riders lead grew to 18 points. Going into the final period Flyers trailed 51-69.

Edozie was the first to score in the fourth with a lay-up. Goodwin then created some separation with the step back and scored a three-pointer. Bristol put the pressure on the Riders defence early and often, drawing four quick fouls.

As a result, the visitors could not afford to play aggressive defence for danger of getting in the penalty. Subsequently, Flyers were able to rally back to cut the deficit to 12 points mid-way through the fourth quarter.

Although Riders would stretch their lead back to 16, Bristol got the game within just 12 points with an important sequence of plays: Weary sunk a three-pointer and then stole the ball on the following possession, was fouled and converted both free-throws.

Riders looked to push their lead back up but committed a 24-second shot clock violation. Behind two free-throws by Goodwin, Flyers had the game within eight.

Goodwin continued his fourth quarter push and scored on back-to-back possessions to keep the contest close. But in the waning moments of the semi-final, it was the veteran visitors who executed down the stretch with Hampton scoring on the buzzer. The final score 75-90.

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Posted: Friday, May 11th 2018