SEVEN unanswered points in the final quarter proved crucial as Team Solent came from 12 points behind to edge home 80-76 against Mansfield Giants in their EBA National League Division Two clash at Oak Tree Leisure Centre.
But Giants’ women brought some solace as they stayed on course for runners- up spot in EBA National League (Women’s) Division Two with a convincing 74-30 victory against visiting Newcastle Eagles.
Giants men produced some great team basketball in the first half as JP Marcellus opened the scoring with a three-pointer.
But Solent, boasting a 7ft player that dominated both scoring and rebounding for them, matched Mansfield point for point.
Player-coach Dan Richards and Dan Watts were both fouled attacking the basket to win free throws, with Richards also found open to dunk the ball for Giants.
Shooting guard AJ Jegede added a three pointer as the first quarter endde all square at 23-23.
Some great team defence led to Solent making mistakes and ensuring their big players scored limited points, with Giants turning turning Solent mistakes into points.
Giants continued to please the crowd with Marcellus opening up the second quarter with an alley hoop dunk from a great pass from Jegede with Watts continuing to drive inside, scoring more baskets as well as valuable free throws. Marcellus proved too strong, scoring six back to back points with Richards draining a long three pointer as they led at the half 47-38.
A tip-in dunk from Watts opened up the third quarter as he continued where he left off from the first half. But Giants struggled to take good shots at basket as Solent began to find momentum to score six unanswered points.
Giants failed to score important free throws to keep the lead up from the first half of the game as they scored just three from seven free throws awarded. Solent continued to move the ball well with Brown beginning to dominate inside, gaining more rebounds and put backs as they closed the deficit to just three points, with Giants still hanging onto a 58-55 lead.
Solent opened up the final quarter with a quick lay-up shot, with Watts replying with a three-point shot for Giants. Mansfield stepped up their defence but again failed to stop Milner and Brown again for Solent to take the score to 64-64.
Richards was found open to score another three, but Solent then went onto to score five unanswered points which gave them a 69-67 lead, with Giants calling a time-out. Marcellus scored another lay-up as Jedege scored a long jump shot, as Giants led by one point.
Crucially, Solent went onto to score a further seven unanswered points that came from poor decisions from Giants to lead 77-71.
Another time-out was called and Jegede scored a three-pointer to close the deficit down to three points with under a minute to go.
Giants tried to stop the clock by fouling which led to Solent scoring three of four free throws.
Another shot from Jegede kept the margin down, but Giants had run out of time.
Giants’ scorers: Richards 17, Marcellus 15, Jegede 15, Watts 13, Morant-Hudson 7, Eboigne 5, Curtis 2, Collins 2.
A depleted Giants ladies gave valuable court time to junior players Kirsty Russell, Anna Barnes and Becky Worley.
Giants had a slow first quarter as Newcastle led 14-11 after the first quarter.
Player-coach Gail Richards stepped up in the second quarter to score long range jump shots, as Giants began to work harder defensively.
Jo Richards returned from injury as she proved too strong inside against Newcastle, with Giants 32-20 up at the half-time break.
Defence was the important factor in the second half for Giants. Guard Katy Taylor scored back-to-back threes as Charlotte Levitt and Jo Richards dominated inside.
Junior Kirsty Russell played in her best game of the season so far, as she controlled the tempo, gained valuable steals and scored long jumpshots as Giants held Newcastle to scoring just two points in the quarter to lead 52-22.
In the final quarter Giants rotated their bench and 12-year-old Anna Barnes took the chance to bag her first basket for Giants.
Taylor continued where she left off from the third quarter, draining another three pointer.
Newcastle continued to struggle to score, as Giants continued to play good defence.
Russell gained more steals to run the lanes and set up more fast break points. Another Giants junior, Becky Wortley, scored her first points for the women and added a jump shot, as Giants’ team effort saw them walk away with a big win.
Scorers: K. Taylor 18, J. Richards 14, G. Richards 12, C. Levitt 10, K. Russell 10, J. Readman 6, A. Barnes 2, B. Wortley 2.
The U14 girls game was awarded 20-0 to Giants as Mystics didn’t have their playing licenses or kit until 25 minutes after the scheduled tip- off time, with the game being awarded to Giants.
The U13s lost 72-29 toWolverhampton Slam
There is no game scheduled for the men this weekend with the women travelling to play Sheffield on Saturday as they continue to pursuit a play-off spot in the league and are still in contention for the runners-place.
The U13s play Derby away on Sunday as the U12s take on Hucknall II in the Notts Open Mini League. For further information visit www.mansfieldgiants.co.uk.