Leopards clinch first win of the season with dominant success over Liverpool
- Credit: Archant
Essex & Herts Leopards are finally off the mark in National Basketball League Division One after a 97-77 home win over Liverpool.
Neither side came into the contest at Oaklands Sportszone with great form, Leopards having lost all nine games while Liverpool tasting success in just two.
But the victory will hopefully help build the confidence at the club, now based in St Albans.
The win was built on a stunning first quarter which saw them race to a 27-point lead. Right from the word go they were on top, back-to-back three-pointers on their first two visits to the net giving a glimpse of what was to follow.
In fact their shooting from outside the arc was pretty exemplary throughout the first half.
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Liverpool struggled to handle the host's firepower and strength in those opening 20 minutes and Leopards had racked up 64 points by half-time.
The visitors did manage to keep in touch during the second quarter, scoring just four less, and they threatened what would have been an unbelievable comeback during the third quarter as they wiped out 11 of the 31-point lead inside the opening five minutes.
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That caused some consternation on the bench as head coach Thomas Baker tried desperately to steady the ship.
They had chances but their shooting, so effective before the half-time break, began to badly misfire and foul trouble also began to cause them worry.
They still closed the quarter with a healthy 21-point advantage but there were plenty of nerves among the home support.
They needn't have worried though as the Big Cats recovered in the final 10 minutes and could have hit the century-mark too had they not been wasteful with three trips to the free-throw line and two efforts from the field in the final 90 seconds.
They will now travel to Nottingham Hoods on Saturday with plenty of confidence.
Q1: Herts & Essex Leopards 38 Liverpool 11
Q2: Herts & Essex Leopards 64 Liverpool 33
Q3: Herts & Essex Leopards 76 Liverpool 55
Q4: Herts & Essex Leopards 97 Liverpool 77