Surrey Scorchers fell at the first hurdle of the BBL Trophy on Saturday evening thanks to a 86-80 loss on the road at Worthing Thunder.
The high flying NBL Division 1 outfit featured a number of former Championship stars in the win, including former Scorcher Alex Owumi, which proved vital in their hard-fought win.
GB international Ryan Richards kicked off his debut in a Scorchers vest with a shot from downtown a matter of seconds into the game, adding another inside the paint to push Scorchers to an early 2-7 advantage.
A dry spell midway into the period left both sides looking for buckets for more than 3 minutes before a Worthing time out allowed the hosts to inject some pace into the tie. Jorge Ebanks shot late from long range to reduce the Scorchers lead to 6 points at the 1st break (13-20).
Both sides traded 3 point shots in the 2ndto keep the tie finely poised with a 6 point difference till late on, with Scorchers holding a slender 5 point lead at half time (37-42).
Boosted by a vocal and passionate home crowd, Thunder cruised into the 3rdstanza with a killer 18-0 run to build a 13 point lead. Coach Creon called a much needed timeout to force his idea into rethinking their options, which Steel benefited from the most to lead the way in dragging Surrey back into the tie. With momentum swinging back in Scorchers’ favour, and Thunder facing foul trouble on and off the bench, the lead was back down to 5 points at 60-54 with 15 to play.
Willie Atwood hit 12 points on the night to open Q4 with a steal-and-dunk play, but still Thunder looked like a side desperate for a scalp. The hosts’ lead was back up to 10 with 7 left on the game clock, when Coach Creon called another vital timeout.
Henry Wilkins and Tayo Ogedengbe quickly combined for 15 points from outside the D to drag the deficit down to just 4 points with a matter of minutes left on the game clock, but it was Thunder who held out for the shock 86-80 win to advance in the Trophy.
Scorchers captain Ogedengbe top scored for his side with 21 points on the night, with import Atwood picking up a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds despite the team loss.
Scorchers return to BBL Championship action on Friday evening with a festive trip south to face the Plymouth Raiders (7.30pm tip-off) before hosting BBL new boys the London City Royals in the traditional Surrey-London New Year’s Day derby (2pm tip-off).
Make sure you get your tickets for the opening home game of 2019 – click here to buy online now.