By Tom Lamming (Student Press Officer)
Bradford Dragons drop to 4-2 in NBL Division One after losing 101-86 to the Essex Rebels on Saturday afternoon.
Dragons never really got into any rhythm, as they found it tough to slow down a younger fast-paced Essex team, desperate to bounce-back from a string of defeats to open their campaign.
Looking to make it three successive league wins, Coach Mellor’s team travelled South to face a newly-promoted Essex Rebels team, who were looking for their first league win of the season.
Dragons were more than holding their own amidst the high-octane opening to the game. With both teams getting to the rim at will, it was very much back and forth in the first half of the opening period.
Ricky Fetske had his way with the Rebels bigs early on, scoring ten first quarter points to lead the Dragons in scoring.
Dave Walsh opened the scoring in the second period with a layup, but the game quickly got out of hand as the Rebels responded with a 16-3 run to lead 45-31.
Over a three-and-a-half-minute stretch of play, the Dragons were blown away by the hosts’ offensive onslaught as they scored on seven of their opening ten possessions in the second quarter.
Dragons fought back, trading buckets with the Rebels as they worked to regain a foothold in the game. After the hosts went up 56-38, the visitors rallied with seven straight points to cut the deficit to 56-45.
Showing signs of fight heading into half time, Dragons trailed 61-49 after the Rebels shot 65% from the field.
Leading on from a promising stint to close the first half, the Dragons burst out of the blocks at the start of the third quarter, scoring six straight points to force Coach Norfolk into a quick timeout.
A trio of layups from Albert Margai, Rihards Šulcs, and Fetske handed the visitors some much-needed momentum as they looked to climb back into the ascendency.
However, straight out of the timeout, Essex quickly extinguished any Dragons momentum with five straight points to re-establish an 11-point lead (66-55).
Despite the Dragons best efforts, cutting the lead to single digits proved extremely difficult for the visitors, who were always within touching distance without really reducing the deficit. At the end of the penultimate quarter of action, Dragons trailed 81-70.
A decent start to the final quarter was essential if the Dragons were going to mount a fightback, but three empty offensive possessions soon sealed the visitors’ fate as the young Rebels raced into a 17-point lead (87-70).
Great Osobor scored eight fourth quarter points, but the visitors were incapable of mounting a comeback as the hosts eased to a comfortable victory in the end.
The Final Score, Essex Rebels 101-86 Bradford Dragons. A frustrating afternoon for Coach Mellor’s team, who suffered a second-straight defeat in all competitions. 12 Rebels threes on 44% shooting and 17 Dragons turnovers were the games’ key storylines.
Coach Mellor lamented the Dragons defensive struggles, he said:
“We’d given up 61 by half time, which is always going to make life difficult, and although we came out with more energy after the break, we never made a telling run to get back into it.”
Next up for Dragons is the first of a three-game homestand in NBL Division One action, which begins on Saturday, February 6, against the Reading Rockets with tip-off at 1.00 pm.
Photograph by Tara StClair (Riders Media)