Bradford Dragons defeated Liverpool Basketball Club 100-88 on Saturday evening, clinching a second succesive NBL division one victory..
The Dragons avenged an early-season defeat to the hosts as the rich vein of form continued for Coach Mellor’s team. A fourth win in five games since the start of the new year improves the Dragons record to 9-8 on the season.
On a day the ninth-seeded Leicester Warriors dropped points, the Dragons extended the gap over the Warriors to four points and piled the pressure on the three clubs who sit just four points above them.
After four empty offensive possessions to start the game, Dragons finally got on the scoreboard through a Dave Walsh layup.
Liverpool led 10-6 just four minutes into the first quarter but proceeded to go on a barren offensive spell that handed the visitors an opportunity to take the lead for the first time.
An 8-0 Dragons run coincided with a scoreless five-minute spell for the hosts.’ Jermayne Laing, Kenny Ogunneye and Rihards Šulcs all scored in the run.
Sparked by the run, the Dragons ended a low-scoring opening quarter, 18-17 to the good.
Going shot-for-shot, the first three minutes of the second period resulted in numerous lead changes.
Then another desolate scoring streak for Liverpool came along. Dragons thoroughly took advantage in a three-and-a-half-minute stretch that presented the visitors with a 31-23 lead.
Ogunneye in his first start of the season, added three points with Andreas Lycoudis and Walsh both knocking down threes in the nine-point surge.
Tyme Regent-Bascombe then proceeded to score nine straight points for Liverpool, in a vital stretch that brought his team within two-points (32-34).
Undeterred by the hosts’ mini surges, the Dragons saw out the final few minutes of the half and ensured a five-point lead at the interval (44-39).
Unlike last weekend against the Worthing Thunder, the third quarter proved to be a difficult period for Dragons on this occasion.
Outscoring the Dragons 31 to 26 in the third, Liverpool battled into a first lead since the opening quarter.
Threatening to re-take the lead for large spells of the quarter, Liverpool finally broke back in front with 4:05 to play in the period as Reiss Haggith knocked down the third of his five threes for the game.
The final minutes of the quarter followed suit as the lead continued to change hands regularly.
Haggith continued to kill Dragons from the three-point line, knocking down two more threes that brought the team total up to 11 after three-quarters of play.
The last of which gave Liverpool a 70-66 lead with just over 30 seconds to play in the penultimate quarter. Laing responded with two huge buckets for the Dragons, tying the game up at 70-70 heading into the fourth period.
Troubled by foul problems for both Ogunneye and Šulcs early in the fourth, Dragons exemplified their grit and fight in tough circumstances.
The visitors dug in and outscored the hosts 30-18 in a vital fourth quarter. Leading by example, Captain Ricky Fetske scored all 11 of his points in the final ten minutes of action.
Lycoudis and Walsh combined for six-straight points that allowed the Dragons to regain the lead and build a 77-73 advantage with just eight minutes to play.
Despite fourth quarter shooting woes from the outside, the hosts were able to get much needed points in the paint. Fighting back to a tie-game, Liverpool’s Umweke added the finishing touches to a 6-0 run with a dunk that brought the scores level at 83-83.
Matt Armstrong responded with a huge three for Dragons (86-83). But just like that, back came Umweke, who scored back-to-back layups that once again put Liverpool in the ascendency (87-86).
With three minutes to play, the game was firmly in the balance. In desperate need of a closer, a Liverpool offense bereft of confidence started to splutter with the game on the line.
Dragons took advantage, scoring 14 of the final 16 points in the game. Armstrong hit another big three that put the visitors back in front at 89-87, before knocking down a two-point jumper to extend the lead to six points, just seconds later.
Walsh, Fetske, and Lycoudis also scored in the 11-1 three-minute surge that gave the undermanned Dragons an important victory in the race for playoff seeding.
The final score, Liverpool 88-100 Bradford Dragons. The visitors stifled Liverpool’s offense in the final moments of the game as the Dragons clinched a sixth win in their last eight NBL Division One games.
Coach Mellor said post-game: “ The score somewhat flattered us in the end because it was a two-point game with three minutes to go and we then closed out the game with an 11-1 run.
“We got in foul trouble and lost our discipline at times but the contributions of Matt (Armstrong) and Ricky (Fetske) off the bench were big factors in seeing us home.”
Seven Dragons scored eight-plus points with five scoring in double figures for the game.
Liverpool’s Uche Umweke led all scorers with 27 points.
Dave Walsh top-scored for Dragons with 23 points. Kenny Ogunneye provided another stellar performance, notching a second-consecutive double-double, scoring 22 points and adding 15 rebounds.
Next up for the Dragons is a road trip to face Barking Abbey on Saturday, February 15 at 4.00pm.
Photographs © Alex Daniel Photography