Neil Watson hit a game-winning three-pointer with six seconds to play as Leicester Riders maintained their BBL Championship title charge with a 77-76 win over London Lions, for a sixth straight victory.
Coming into the game on the back of a dramatic fourth quarter win in Newcastle the night before, Riders trailed early in this encounter as Alex Owumi scored 11 early points, and his three-pointer put the visitors up 24-23 after ten minutes.
But Riders have now won eight straight games against the Lions, and they gained the ascendancy when TrayVonn Wright scored six points in an 8-2 start to the second stanza, and Shane Walker was on the end of an ‘alley-oop’ pass to see the hosts head into the half at 45-37.
Riders had tightened up their defence, and by the time they scored the 20th point from the 15 turnovers that they had forced midway through the third, the lead was peaking at 55-43.
But Lions have been in some close games lately, with nine of their last 11 being settled by single-figures, and they came roaring back with the next 12 points, sparked by an Owumi triple and including consecutive scores from Nick Lewis, to tie the game at 55.
From that point, Watson came to the fore. He kept Riders’ noses in front with the last score of the third quarter, and then opened the fourth with another basket; and, when Lions got back to within one soon after, Watson was there again.
But equally impressive was Lewis for Lions, and it was he who tied the game at 74 with a pair of free-throws with one minute to play, and then scored again to give Lions their first lead since early in the second period with 28 seconds left on the clock.
Riders came out of a timeout and missed two shots, but Tyler Bernardini won the offensive rebound on both, and got the ball to Watson as he nailed the decisive three-pointer with just six seconds to play, leading his team with 19 points.
Lewis had another go, driving to the basket, but he could not score and Lions fell to a fourth straight defeat as they hang on to their Play-off spot. The performance of Demond Watt was a bright spot, as he scored 23 points and snatched 18 rebounds to make a BBL Team of the Week appearance highly likely.
Leicester Riders 77 (23,45,57) (Watson 19, Gruis 14, Wright 14)
London Lions 76 (24,37,55) (Watt 23, Lewis 20, Owumi 14)