By Tom Lamming (Student Press Officer)
Bradford Dragons succumbed to an 87-73 home defeat against the Worthing Thunder in NBL Division One.
A tight game for the opening two quarters, a below-par third quarter cost the Dragons dearly as they were never able to mount a late comeback.
The Dragons drop to 5-4 in NBL Division One as the three-game homestand comes to a disappointing conclusion.
Dragons got on the board through a hook shot from captain Ricky Fetske as the hosts attacked the paint at will in the first quarter, beginning to reap the rewards.
Down 8-2, Dragons went on a 14-3 run as Jermayne Laing, Rihards Šulcs, and Great Osobor all notched paint scores.
After a relatively low-scoring opening period, the second quarter was anything but, as both teams seemingly found their offensive groove.
Dragons opened the scoring with two free-throws from Andreas Lycoudis (19-16).
The Dragons had their way in the paint, but on the flip side, the Thunder killed Dragons from behind the three-point line as both teams sparred to create separation.
After four first quarter threes, the visitors followed up with six threes in the second period as Taylor and Tom Ward both hit two threes.
Missing a few key pieces of the team through injury, Coach Mellor shortened the Dragons rotation in the opening half and got some vital bench-scoring from Tyme Regent-Bascombe and Osobor. The young duo combined for 11 of the Dragons 26 points in the quarter.
Despite the Thunder’s three-point assault, Dragons were well in the game, down 44-43 going into the interval.
Hoping to build some momentum after a promising end to the half, the Dragons started the second half in the worst possible way.
12 straight points handed the visitors a commanding 56-43 lead with just over six minutes to play in the penultimate quarter.
Talented youngster Elijah Walsh stopped the bleeding for Dragons with a much-needed three, but the visitors rallied and built the lead up to a then game-high 16 points (66-50).
Walsh answered again for the Dragons with five straight points to cut the deficit to 11, but the Thunder extended their lead to 12 (69-57) heading into the final quarter of action.
Looking to cut into the deficit, the opening minutes of the quarter, saw both teams trading buckets. Dragons went down by 15 but responded with six-straight points to cut the lead to 78-67 with just over four-and-a-half minutes to play.
Coach Stanley called a timeout to allow his Thunder team to regroup, and unfortunately for Dragons, after a promising stint of play, a scoreless run over the next two minutes saw the game slip away.
Eight unanswered points from Taylor and Sunderland saw the Thunder climb into an 85-68 lead and effectively seal the victory.
The Final Score, Bradford Dragons 73-87 Worthing Thunder. Dragons fall to 5-4 on the season after a disappointing afternoon in Nottingham.
The Thunder hit 15 threes (15-28) as the Dragons recent free-throw shooting woes continue (6-15).
Ricky Fetske top-scored for Dragons with 13 points and 9 rebounds, and Rihards Šulcs added 12 points.
Jack Sunderland and Zaire Taylor led the game in scoring with 18 apiece for the Thunder.
Coach Mellor pinpointed the Dragons rough third quarter, he said:
“It was an even first half, but we got down early in the third and were always playing catch up. Worthing shot the ball really well from three, and that was probably the biggest factor.”
Next up for Dragons is a trip to face unbeaten league leaders Solent Kestrels on Saturday, February 27, with tip-off at 3.30pm.
Photographs © Alex Daniel Photography