Surrey Scorchers 67-70 B Braun Sheffield Sharks (16-11, 20-21, 19-20, 12-18)
Scorchers – Wang 21, Mcfolley 19, Steel 9; Sharks – Pipkins 22, Glasgow Jr 12, Nichols 11
Playing on consecutive nights often helps teams carry momentum, and the B Braun Sheffield Sharks stayed in rhythm during their drive down the M1 to beat the Surrey Scorchers, thanks to a big game from Jalon Pipkins.
The Sharks held the home side scoreless for nearly minutes as the supporters in Surrey Sports Park willed their team to get on the board.
Padiet Wang was the man who did so on a couple of free throws for the Scorchers, but the Sharks continued to attack, with Jordan Ratinho hitting from distance.
The inside game wasn’t falling for Surrey, but Wang found the mark from distance on back-to-back plays.
Inspired by their teammate’, Ryan Martin and Josh Steel joined the three-point party.
The Sharks’ relatively recent addition, Jalon Pipkins, checked out for Kipper Nichols, who started his first game on the bench for the first time in several seasons.
But the forward wasted no time in being a super sub: he hit two jumpers within 20 seconds to bring his team within five to close the first 10 minutes, 16-11.
Since punching a ticket to the FIBA World Cup on the national team of South Sudan earlier this year, Wang has been in good form.
He started attacking the basket with success, but didn’t let the Sharks forget about his potential as a three-point threat either.
After a couple of successful baskets, he was fouled on a long distance buzzer beater and hit two of three.
Teammate Tayo Ogedengbe followed this with a handful of foul shots. He was hit on a crafty post play, then on a transition drive, and pushed the home lead up to 11.
After forcing Surrey’s Josh Mcfolley into a tough three under pressure, Sheffield’s Rodney Glasgow Jr grabbed the rebound and found Pipkins for a great fast break jam.
The assist man then pulled up from distance to cut Sheffield’s deficit to six.
Through a post-up for Bennet Koch, the big man found Pipkins curling around a screen at the top of key for a jumper and pulled within four before the halftime buzzer went, with Sheffield down four.
The visitors fouled on another three-point shot to start the second half. Mcfolley made all three for the Scorchers and his confidence started showing after this.
A few possessions later, Mcfolley was preparing to pass the ball in from out of bounds, and bounced the ball off the back of a Sharks defender, then caught it to score an easy layup.
The Scorchers still couldn’t pull away entirely, thanks to the Pipkins-Nichols duo finishing on back-to-back trips down the court. Both of them benefitted from good ball movement.
Mcfolley was having a nice day, and drove the ball into Koch, but dribbled back a step that got the big defender to commit to the close out. Mcfolley looped around the other side of the basket for a stretching layup.
Glasgow Jr single-handedly kept his team within reach.
He broke down the defence to find space for a pull-up jumper, then found Nichols for an open three, and made his own shot from distance to stay within four.
Then, pushing in transition, on a three-against-one opportunity, the defender sagged off Glasgow Jr so the guard rose up and buried the mid-range shot.
This brought the Sharks to within three points of the Scorchers – as they continued to close the gap slightly with each passing quarter, 55-52.
The game was finally tied by Sheffield’s Koch. Pipkins found him inside and the big man used a drop step in the lane and a pump fake to get a clean shot off the backboard to make it 56 apiece.
Kyle Carey broke the tie for Surrey on a big three but Sheffield’s Ratinho found Koch for another bucket inside.
Koch finally took the lead for the Sharks, then his teammate Devearl Ramsey stole the ball from Shakem Johnson to create a mid-range pull-up in transition and go up by three.
A series of great defensive stops, which included Ramsey goading Wang into an offensive foul allowed the Scorchers to take time off the clock.
Sa’eed Nelson found Pipkins for a good two-point jumper and Sheffield went up by five.
The visitors went back to Koch, but he came up empty.
Mcfolley grabbed the rebound for the home team then pulled up for a three-point jumper on the other end – the fans exploded in support as the Scorchers pulled within two.
After a timeout, the Scorchers set up another pick-and-roll for Mcfolley. Koch switched out on the guard, so Mcfolley stepped back for another three to take a one-point lead.
The Sharks took the lead back after the Scorchers failed to secure a rebound. It fell to Pipkins, who rose up and hit the mid-ranger.
With enough time for one full possession, Mcfolley started to attack for Surrey but slipped. He got the ball to Steel, who missed a jumper.
The rebound went to Sheffield’s Nelson, and the home team had to foul. Nelson hit both to take a three-point lead with five seconds to go.
Mcfolley was forced into a long-range effort, but it fell short, which gave the hard-fought victory to the visiting team.
After the game, Sharks coach Atiba Lyons said to the BBL’s John Hobbs: “I think our defence saved us. They shot the ball incredibly well, especially in the first half, but we stuck with it.
“The penny is dropping. A lot of the guys are understanding what I want to do and they’re delivering the best they can. That’s all I can ask and I think we’re all beginning to understand each other as a team.”
The win increased Sheffield’s gap over Newcastle for the final spot in the playoffs, but the Eagles will hope to catch up when they play the Leicester Riders tomorrow.
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