Surrey Scorchers 87-89 Plymouth City Patriots (25-23, 21-20, 17-27, 24-19)
Scorchers – Dobbs 18, McFolley 18, Lawrence 15; Patriots – 28, Gadsden 18, Bissainthe 18
The Plymouth City Patriots fans have travelled well on the road this season, especially when the team has visited the Surrey Scorchers – and they did so again when they squeezed out an 89-87 win at Surrey Sports Park in this final BBL Championship meeting between the two sides.
Victory came on the broad shoulders of Rashad Hassan, who kept the scoreboard ticking over all night with 28 points, but it was a dagger from Elvisi Dusha – who scored just five points for Plymouth – that sealed the win in the closing seconds.
The last time the sides met at Surrey Sports Park, the Patriots won 105-95, but two of the three games have been competitive – and the South East faithful came out in full voice, hoping their team would pick up one win between the two.
A Plymouth win would create a cushion over the Newcastle Eagles for the eighth place in the BBL Championship, and a potential place in the playoffs.
James Hawhorne Jr started out as Plymouth’s aggressor, and put them up early. He was found by Jules Dang-Akodo and a couple of times by Elvisi Dusha, including on a rare three to go up 7-2.
It was a combined effort from the Scorchers to get back in it but Josh McFolley pulled them level at 16 apiece on a pair of successful free throws after a rack attack.
Hawthorne Jr caught his second foul early with an aggressive closeout on Charleston Dobbs behind the three-point line. Dobbs couldn’t put Surrey ahead, but with Plymouth’s leading scorer on the bench, the visitors had to look elsewhere.
Surrey fed big man Boban Jacdonmi, who got a floating shot up to tie it, and followed it up with a free throw after being fouled.
Then Tayo Ogedengbe and Dobbs scored to put the home team up two at the end of 10 minutes.
Andrew Lawrence opened up the second quarter with a three for the Scorchers. He then stole the ball and got a layup on the break that was deemed a goaltending, despite the contest.
Josh McFolley started to take over. He hit a three, then found Josh Steel for another. The point guard then hit a tough mid-range fadeaway before pushing the ball ahead in transition to a running Jacdonmi for a layup.
This gave the Scorchers their biggest lead of the game, 40-28.
After a timeout, each team hit the floor with new defensive plans. Plymouth went to a zone, which forced the Scorchers into a tough few offensive possessions.
Meanwhile, Surrey pressured Plymouth full court, which slowed the visitors down – however, calm play by Elvisi Dusha found the open Jules Dang-Okodo, who got the pass ahead to Rashad Hassan for an easy layup.
In a semi-transition play, Dusha ran an open court pick-and-roll with Dang-Okodo, which left a lane for the trailing Hassan. Dusha found him for a big dunk and the Patriots were back in the game with less than two minutes to go in the first half.
Plymouth kept pushing the ball, even after Surrey scores, and ran another successful semi-transition pick-and-roll with Dusha and Hassan for their closing possession to cut the deficit to three – 46-43 at the half in Surrey’s favour.
It took less than two minutes in the third quarter for Plymouth to tie things up. Dusha got into the lane but found Hassan deep in the post for an alley-oop layup.
Both teams wanted to run on offence, but Surrey crept ahead thanks to Andrew Lawrence, McFolley and Shakem Johnson sinking free throws.
Ryan Bissainthe kept Plymouth within reach on an and-one play but it was tough, physical basketball on both ends.
This meant that Hawthorne picked up his fourth foul halfway through the third, and returned to the bench.
The Patriots still had a former BBL scoring champion on their side, and Hassan went to work in the post – getting his defender up in the air with a pump fake then dribbling through for a layup.
Plymouth’s Ty Gadsden began finding gaps in the Scorchers’ defence, as the home team’s full court pressure started to tire. He got loose on the perimeter for a step back three that swished through then got a layup to fall the next time down.
The final frame saw the visiting side run a full-court zone defence of their own. It was productive in stopping Surrey, but the Patriots struggled to get defensive rebounds and Johnson got a dunk for the Scorchers when everything broke down for Plymouth after they allowed three offensive boards.
Gadsden scored the most entertaining layup of the game on a broken pass – he caught the ball in his left hand, dribbled once, and reverse pivoted around his defender for an acrobatic layup off the glass.
But the Scorchers kept fighting back. McFolley tied it up with a pair of free throws, then Lawrence and Dobbs ran a pick and pop that saw the latter pull up from three to put his team up by the same amount.
Hassan fought hard on the offensive glass for Plymouth and got a score under pressure. He followed this with another big bucket off a beautiful pick and roll pocket pass from Dusha to go one-point ahead.
With a few minutes to go Hawthorne was back for the Patriots and he made an immediate impact with a big three at the top of the arc – his second for the game, after hitting just 12 all season coming into the contest.
McFolley responded but scores and leads went back and forth until less than 20 seconds to go.
Dusha got into the lane for Plymouth and hit a cold step back mid-ranger to put the Patriots up three with a few seconds to go.
The Scorchers tried to inbound the ball but Dusha tipped it and attempted a layup. He missed but Hawthorne was there for a put-back dunk to seal the victory.
This gave the Plymouth City Patriots a great chance to secure the final place in the playoffs.
It might come down to the final game of the season, but the Newcastle Eagles would have to have some luck on their side for things to fall in their favour in the final few games – starting tomorrow against the Leicester Riders.
Tune in to the Eagles-Riders game tomorrow on our YOUTUBE CHANNEL