Basketball Break Northumbria in Thriller

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Men’s Basketball        University of Leeds 57 – 55 Northumbria

LEEDS basketball men’s 1sts managed to pick up their second league win of the season against a valiant Northumbria 3rds side looking to get off the mark. Having been 11 points behind with less than four minutes remaining the match, Northumbria refused to lie down but Leeds held on for an intense 57-55 win.

Following a convincing win over Salford last week in the cup, Leeds were looking to continue their good form to get right back in the promotion battle.

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Image: Matt Norman

Northumbria started strongly as they hit three three-pointers early on to take a 13-8 lead into the first time-out of the match. Despite going down, Leeds continued to play a quick counter-attacking game as Northumbria struggled to get back into defence after the rebounds. However, both sides began to miss many opportunities in and around the hoop, as most of the scoring was done from the free-throw line with the foul count racking up. Northumbria failed to capitalise on their free-throws and after a speculative rejection by captain Tomiwa Issachar, Leeds were able to break once again with Peter Pittaway scoring the two points. The first quarter finished with another free-throw to Northumbria who took an 18-15 lead.

Leeds began the second quarter with increased intensity and after both sides missed some three-point attempts, Tom Simpson managed to disrupt a Northumbria attack to set up Baile Beyai to give Leeds the lead for the first time. Leeds maintained the pressure in defence, breaking away quickly when turning the ball over to maintain their lead. After back-to-back three-pointers from Aurimas Šeimys and more Northumbria free-throws, Leeds were 33-30 ahead at the half-time whistle, the match still very much up for grabs for either side.

Leeds upped the intensity once again at the start of the third quarter to extend their lead to a more comfortable seven points as Šeimys bagged another three-pointer and more quick breaks allowed Abdulaziz Adekola to find the basket. A period of fouls by either side gave each more and more unchallenged opportunities but Northumbria failed to make the most of them once again. Simpson continued his good form however, scoring three free-throws on the trot to put Leeds 48-40 in front. One final attack from Northumbria saw the end of the penultimate quarter, Leeds six in front 48-42.

Northumbria looked as though they had given up on the result as Leeds grabbed full control of the match to lead by 11 points with less than 4 minutes on the clock, 57-46. As Leeds tried to slow the pace of the match to run down the remaining time, Northumbria found a second wind. After Northumbria rediscovered their scoring ability to move within five points of Leeds, the pressure was clearly mounting. Unforced errors crept into Leeds’ game, giving Northumbria the chance to go within one scoring shot of either levelling the match or taking the lead, with the score at 57-55. As the clock ran down under one minute, the score was still very close, but an organised Leeds defence managed to snuff out all that Northumbria could throw at the Gryphons, led by the impressive, tireless work of both Beyai and Jason Sykes. Leeds regained possession of the ball with a mere 13 seconds left on the clock and confidently controlled the ball as the final buzzer sounded.

Leeds have now made it two wins on the spin, and will play Sheffield Hallam 2nds next week. The victory directly followed another home win as the 2nds beat top-of-the-table Newcastle 2nds 61-52 to go joint-top of their league.

Matthew Norman

Featured image: ACAC

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