The Glasgow Rocks met the Plymouth Raiders in the second leg of their BBL Playoffs Quarter final on Sunday, facing a deficit of five points from the first leg, which the Raiders snatched in a tight game in Plymouth, 84-79. The Raiders had also swept the regular season series 3-0, but optimism was high in the Kelvin Hall as a lively crowd urged the Rocks from the opening tip.
Plymouth got off to a 5-2 start as Williams began to assert himself in the middle against Cranston, setting the tone for a night which would see Cranston struggle with foul trouble early in the second quarter. Mychal Green, leading the Rocks in scoring this season averaging 17.3, hit an early three-pointer to settle the side.
Both sides would exchange baskets as Glasgow took a slight edge towards the end of the first quarter, leading 15-10 despite foul trouble for Cranston and player-coach Davis. Bell struggled for Plymouth in particular in the early exchanges, missing from beyond the arc on several occasions as Glasgow made the most of their chances including a buzzer beater from Harrison to end the first quarter with a 21-12 lead.
The second quarter continued in similar fashion, Plymouth shading the opening exchanges as Cranston was forced to sit with eight minutes remaining after his third foul, swiftly punctuated by an emphatic dunk for Williams. The score was narrowed to 28-23 after a 6-0 run for the Raiders, but an impressive reverse lay-in from Wedemire, followed by a corner three from Green, re-established the Rocks’ rhythm on offence. A three- pointer from Bell cut the lead to seven, but Davis took the ball down the middle for a dunk which had the home crowd on its feet as the second quarter finished with Glasgow holding a ten point lead.
Leading by ten when six was needed for progression to the BBL Playoff semi-finals, Glasgow came out trying to continue to impose themselves inside and outside as the second half began. Plymouth had other ideas however, and largely dominated the third quarter as they climbed back into contention, narrowing the lead to 47-45 with a few minutes left on the clock. This proved to be a catalyst for Glasgow, as they upped their game, Murray answering a two for the Raiders with a three of his own, followed by that man Green, who knocked down a three-pointer at the buzzer to give Glasgow a 55-49 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Early in the fourth, controversy arose as Murray appeared to take a hit to the face as Colbert drove to the basket and the crowd turned their volume to maximum to voice their disapproval. This drove the Rocks to greater heights as they turned up their intensity on the defensive end, making things extremely tough for the Raiders down the stretch. Murray in particular had a huge fourth quarter, grabbing boards from everywhere on his way to a double-double, (seventeen points, ten rebounds) and knocking down a three before dishing a great assist to Danny Huffor for the layup.
Ojo knocked down his only three of the game, (1/7) but Green answered back with a step-back 3 of his own to give Glasgow an eleven point cushion. Murray compounded Plymouths misery knocking down another three and followed it with another defensive board as the Glasgow defence locked the Raiders down for just eleven points in the fourth quarter. The Rocks coasted in for victory as the Raiders belief drained, the final score 80-60, taking Glasgow back to the semi-finals again.
The performer of the night was Murray, who was monstrous in the fourth quarter as Glasgow pulled away
EJ Harrison had an impressive eight points, eight rebounds and six assists, Green notched an impressive 26 points, with five assists and three rebounds, but the performer of the night appeared to go to Murray who was monstrous in the fourth quarter as Glasgow pulled away. Player/Coach, Sterling Davis was effusive in his praise of his team after the game,
“I thought our defensive intensity was strong tonight, we really did a good job of getting stops and that’s what carried us. We’re just taking one game and we’ve got to put on a better performance as it gets more difficult as we go on, but we did a good job tonight.”