Foul trouble hits hard as Wolves go close to double success
- Credit: LIZZY HARRISON
Oaklands Wolves went agonisingly close to a recording back-to-back victories in their double-header weekend.
The National Basketball League Division One side won 88-73 at Leicester Warriors on Saturday but came up just short 24 hours later, going down 92-88 at home to Derby Trailblazers.
It was the third quarter that proved crucial in each contest.
An excellent defensive performance helped defeat the Warriors but losing American pair AJ Roberts and Jordan Santiago in the same period allowed the Blazers to grab the win.
Santiago missed most of the first half at Leicester after suffering an ankle injury in the first minute, but returned to lead Wolves' scoring with 20 points.
Roberts meanwhile finished with 16 points, Kane Daley added 15 while Obi Egbunike and Oliver Wright had 12 points apiece.
Seventeen-year-old Wright was the star the following day, leading Wolves for the first time with 19 points as the hosts went agonisingly close to beating a side likely to finish in the top four.
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Roberts and Santiago each finished with 15 points despite their early exits, with the former adding six rebounds and the latter five assists, while Ahmed Ketiri finished with 14 points.
Daley added 12 points as five Wolves' players finished in double figures again.
Oaklands looked in trouble when they trailed Blazers 46-26 after slightly more than six minutes of the second period but by half-time the gap was down to 46-37.
And they had wiped that advantage out after three minutes of the third when they went 47-46 in front.
The key moment came just seconds after this though when Santiago was dived into protect Wright who had got into a scuffle with Ashley Ugo.
He was given an unsportsmanlike foul which, having picked up a first quarter technical foul, saw him ejected.
Ugo too was also given an unsportsmanlike foul but when Roberts fouled out two minutes later, the home side were up against it.
They still led going into the final quarter, 69-66 ahead, and the youngsters were still holding on despite the loss of Egbunike to foul trouble with two minutes left.
The pressure finally told, though, with American pair Malcolm Smith and Josh Conway each scoring four points in an 8-0 run to seal the win before - fittingly - Wright scored the final basket of the game.