Loughborough Student Riders84Win
Reading Rockets81Loss

Match Report

Loughborough Riders 84 v 81 Reading Rockets.

Rockets led from tip till just 1 minute 35 from the end of this pulsating game where the sharp shooters were in abundance but Rockets just lost out with a few failures in the end game scenario.

Trae Pemberton and Sydney Donaldson flew out of the traps with 12 and 8 personal points in the first quarter which Rockets took 29-23. A J Carr and Adrian O’Sullivan opened their accounts with a brace of trebles and the returning from injury teenage guard Sam Grant also got in the action. Rockets travelled to the Midlands without captain Danny Carter who pulled up in training on Thursday with his long term back injury so was rested in the hope he can make both final home league games on 24th and 31st at Rivermead, after which he retires. Rockets played well offensively and defensively during these opening exchanges but were well aware of the fire power of the National Cup winners.

Despite Carr striking on the buzzer with Rockets first offence, Head Coach Alan Keane had seen enough of Riders changes in tactics very early in the second period to call a time-out within 90 secs of the restart. Carr was prominent and scored 9 personal points with Donaldson again proving most competitive with drives , drawing fouls and converting the free throws. A Carr spin followed immediately by a long assist to Pemberton coupled to an arrow assist from David Chive to his other Academy cohort Arinze Emeka-Anyakwo  saw Rockets enjoy their biggest lead 44 -31 after a 11-0 run. A Riders buzzer treble quickly followed by another from the same player saw them cut the deficit to 8 pts., and soon they were  just 45-48 down before another teenage Rocket Adrian Nosa hit a crucial treble from out wide. Riders scored last before the interval so Rockets stayed ahead 51-47.

Ten more personal points from Carr in a 17-13 quarter saw Rockets 68-60 ahead at the end of the third period. Carr had scored with a spin move, a step back, a drive when fouled and a buzzer beating treble whilst  O’Sullivan had scored with a classic pull up jump shot and Donaldson was again most determined around the court as Rockets led by 8 with just the final stanza awaited.

Adrian Nosa drained another fine treble as Rockets went 11 points ahead within the opening 30 seconds and Pemberton rose high to take down a crucial defensive rebound but a 8-0 Riders run and Carr falling foul of the officials for the fourth time meant he was side-lined on the bench with over 7 minutes remaining. Donaldson hit a treble and Tanner Kuehn spun to score to edge Rockets ahead by 8 again but within a minute Donaldson was called for his fourth foul and Rockets were soon in team foul trouble giving a significant advantage to Riders. The National Cup winners milked this scenario and with just 1.35 left on the clock took the lead for the first time in the game at 77-76. Donaldson hit a pair of free throws to regain the advantage for Rockets before Riders brought the scores level on 78 with 1.05 remaining. Then a big and vital treble for Riders with 33.9 secs left. Rockets regained possession  but Riders stern defence caused Rockets to turn it over and have to foul to regain possession.  Riders scored both penalty shots , Rockets missed with a treble effort  but hit one moments later so just 2 points down with 2.8 secs left. Riders hit one from two from the free throw line to have a 3 point lead and Rockets long effort to take the game to overtime didn’t trouble the scorers.

A very good game which players and supporters from both teams had fully enjoyed with Riders probably feeling they got away with a game that might just have been Rockets. Rockets led for 37.34 minutes and Riders just 47 secs but they were the crucial ones. Riders stay in third place and Rockets will now fight for 4th and 5th place on their two remaining league fixtures.

Top scorers for Rockets were A J Carr with a double double of 22 pts., and 12 rebounds, Sydney Donaldson with 21 pts.,and 5 rebounds with Trae Pemberton scoring 16 pts., and taking down 7 rebounds.


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Date Time League Season
23/03/2019 18:00 NBL Division 1 2018 / 2019