Late Crumble for Heat
05 December 2011
In front of a sold out Surrey Sports Park and the Sky Sports cameras, the new-look Guildford Heat fell agonisingly short against the Worcester Wolves on Sunday afternoon.
The game was a see-saw affair that could have gone either way right down to the final possession. The first quarter alone produced five lead changes and five ties as neither side could get much of an advantage over the other. The Heat produced an early 8-0 run, featuring a three from Martelle McLemore, a three-point play by Drew Lasker and a tip-in from Shaun Durant. This gave them their largest lead of the first half, 16-11. However, the Wolves finished the quarter with a 10-2 run over the last two minutes to take their largest lead of the quarter, 31-27.
For the Wolves, their success was based on their three-point shooting as they hit six threes in the first quarter alone, missing just two. The lead could have been bigger had their free-throw shooting been better, the Wolves hitting a disappointing 1-5 from the line. The Heat started to get a handle on their defence in the second quarter, limiting the Wolves to just 20 points and two three-pointers, both from Arnas Kazlauskas, who had also hit two in the first quarter. However, despite this, and despite outscoring the Wolves 22-20 in the quarter, the Heat never actually drew level with the Wolves, trailing the entire period.
The Heat continued to chip away at the lead though, getting it down to two points at half time, when they trailed by two at 49-51. They drew level on the first play of the second half, when Tayo Ogedengbe stole the ball and went coast-to-coast only for Sherrad Prezzie-Blue to foul the Heat forward on his way to the basket. Tayo sank his free-throws to draw the two sides level and things seemed to be going the Heat's way two plays later. A Heat offense was broken up only for the ball to roll free to Mike Copeland in the corner, Mike stepping back to hit his second three of the game.
Despite that, the Heat trailed by a point, 63-64, before one of the game’s many turning points. Things had been increasingly physical in the second half, with several players from both sides ending up on the floor. After a Martelle three, Julius Joseph ended up on the floor, Kazlauskas judged to have committed an unsportsmanlike foul for sending him there. This gave JJ two free-throws, which he made, and on the ensuing possession, Mike Copeland gathered a clever lob pass under the basket for another two points. At the other end, Mike hauled in a rebound after a missed Wolves three, only to be fouled by Alex Zimnickas. As the Wolves were in the penalty, this sent Mike to the line, where his free-throw capped an 8-0 Heat run.
The Heat led 78-72 going into the final quarter when another turning point sent the game the Wolves’ way. Heat Coach Creon Raftopoulos was hit with a technical for complaining when Wolves centre Richie Gorden appeared to impede Shaun Durant, allowing a Tommy Freeman lay-up. Freeman went to the line for two more free-throws and on the ensuing possession, buried a three to make it a seven-point trip down court for the Wolves, putting them ahead, 89-87. After that, the Heat were always playing catch-up and try as they might, they could never get the scores level again. With 15 seconds left, they had one last possession to even things up, trailing 93-96. First Mike Copeland missed a three, but the Heat got the rebound and got the ball back out to Drew Lasker who missed another rushed three. Once more the Heat got the ball and this time they found Julius Joseph who was able to set himself. His three was just short and Prezzie-Blue came up with the ball. He was fouled and his two free-throws finished the scoring, the Wolves winning 98-93.
The Wolves were led by their big three of Prezzie-Blue (24 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds), Gordon (23 points, 5 rebounds) and Freeman (23 points). The Heat had a balanced attack, with six players in double figures, Drew Lasker leading the way with 22 points. Martelle McLemore added 18 points, including four three pointers before fouling out in the dying seconds.
The game will be shown on Sky Sports 2 on Tuesday, 6th December at 5pm and again at midnight on Sky Sports 3. It will be repeated on Wednesday, 7th December at 9am on Sky Sports 3 and at 1pm on Sky Sports 2.