Leicester stop Heat fireworks
06 November 2011
There were fireworks at the Surrey Sports Park on Saturday night as the Guildford Heat hosted the Leicester Riders. With a much improved performance, the Heat took the Riders to the brink, only to fall to a piece of magic from the Riders' American point-guard, Cameron Rundles, who led all scorers with 33 points.
The game had been close throughout, with the Heat avoiding their usual 3rd and 4th quarter meltdowns. With two minutes to go, they trailed by just two points, 67-69, but four quick points from the Riders extended their lead with 90 seconds on the clock. After Julius Joseph answered with a strong drive to the basket, the Riders came back with a well-executed offense that left Rundles open for a three which he drained, his seventh of the night.
With 1.04 to go and down seven, 69-76, it looked all over for the Heat, but they staged a marvellous fight back. JJ led the way, grabbing a loose ball under the Riders basket and getting fouled. His free-throws made it 71-76 with 53 seconds to go. Then he stole the ball on the next Riders possession and fed Tayo Ogedengbe for a thunderous transition dunk. With 36 seconds to go, it was 73-76 and a one possession game.
At the other end, Rundles was fouled, went to the line and missed both free throws. The Riders had a second chance when GB Captain Andrew Sullivan grabbed the rebound. He was fouled and missed both his free-throws as well. This time, Tayo grabbed the rebound and was fouled, but could only make 1-2 from the line, leaving the Heat down two, 74-76, with 22 seconds to play.
Again the Heat fouled Rundles and again he missed both free-throws, Mike Martin hauling down the rebound. The Heat raced the other way and, going to the win, JJ was just off with a three with 11 seconds on the clock. The Riders grabbed the rebound and after a time-out, they got the ball to Bradd Wierzbicki. He too was fouled and with nine seconds on the clock, he missed the Riders' seventh straight free-throw. Finally he made one, putting the Riders back up, 77-74.
After a Heat timeout, Dean Williams inbounded the ball to JJ as he ran from the top of the key to the 3/4 position. Catching the ball and launching it in one motion, JJ swished the three and tied the game, 77-77 with seven seconds on the clock.
Another Riders timeout followed and it was down to the last play of the game. The Riders got the ball to Rundles, who was well defended by Dean Williams, forcing him out beyond the three point line. After a Riders screen, Mike Martin switched out on Rundles, forcing him across the top of the key and away from the basket. With time running out, Rundles showed great composure, getting off an off-balance shot as he fell away from the basket to create space. As the buzzer sounded, the ball rattled through the hoop and it was over, the Riders winning 79-77 on a piece of individual basketball magic from Rundles.
The Heat were led by another strong performance from Tayo with 24 points, JJ adding 20, seven of them in the last 90 seconds. Albert Margai again brought energy and great defence, while in his first game of the season, Shaun Durant had an amazing debut, showing heart and energy on the boards, marshalling the Heat defence and providing the sort of passion and committment that the Heat have been looking.
Cameron Rundles showed his worth with 33 points, 12 in the first quarter and 11 in the fourth. Bradd Wierzbicki added 16 points.