Updated: Jan 16, 2019
Fans at Copleston Sports Centre were treated to a nail-biting contest as Ipswich toughed out an overtime victory over Greenwich Titans on Saturday, writes Rob Schatten.
In the archetypal basketball “game of runs”, Ipswich repeatedly built double-digit leads only for the visiting Titans to edge back into the contest.
The trend continued from the first quarter, in which Ipswich led by 13 points after just four minutes, until the end of regulation, in which Greenwich fought all the way back from a 17-point deficit to tie the game in the final minute.
“It’s a tough game to think back on,” admitted head coach John Ellis after the clash. “We’re obviously delighted with the way we played in the overtime period, especially closing the game out short-handed, but I’m also scratching my head as to why the game got to overtime in the first place!”
Ipswich had made a commanding start to the game, Cameron Hawes dropping three three-pointers in the first four minutes of the game as the hosts ran out to a commanding early lead.
Ray Akpofure, who has anchored Greenwich’s offense this season, got going to reduce the arrears to six before threes from Veron Eze and Steve Hemmings re-established the hosts’ advantage.
A run of scores for Greenwich brought the visitors back within eight late in the second quarter but Ethan Price ended the first half with a massive breakaway slam dunk and Ipswich took a 53-38 lead into half-time.
The visitors came back out with renewed purpose in the third quarter. Akpofure scored 14 of his game-high 47 in the period as a fast-starting Greenwich squad again fought their way back into the contest, coming back within three points with two minutes to play in the quarter.
Once again, though, Ipswich had an answer just in time, Price and Hawes combining to extend the lead back to 75-68 by the end of the third quarter.
Ipswich started the final period of regulation the stronger, as a combined 11 points from Jed Robinson and Colin Dockrell helped Ellis’ side extend their advantage yet again.
Cameron Hawes led Ipswich with 25 points in their win over Greenwich. Picture: NICK WINTER
Up by 17 with under five minutes remaining, Ipswich were forced to watch as a 14-1 run brought Greenwich within one.
Robert Gellatly had a chance to win the game for the visitors, but made only one of two free throws, and with no further scores the fourth quarter ended on a 98-98 tie, leading to the extra period.
This remarkable contest was rather summed up by the fact that even the five-minute overtime saw four lead changes. Akpofure scored first, before Eze’s free-throws levelled the game and Hawes hit a go-ahead layup.
Ipswich went six ahead on a Marvin Isebor jump-shot but Lewis Gale and the indefatigable Akpofure brought the visitors within one before they took the lead on a Carl Williams lay-up.
With Price and Robinson having already fouled out, Ipswich also lost Isebor to injury in overtime and Ellis turned to Callum Collins, making his senior debut.
Ellis called a timeout and coming out of that, captain Dockrell hit a huge three-pointer to put Ipswich back in front. Another Hawes lay-up doubled the advantage before Collins forced a Greenwich turnover to essentially end the game.
“All in all, a remarkable effort to win such an emotionally charged game,” said Ellis. “After giving up that big lead in the fourth we could easily have folded but I’m really proud of the way the guys fought in overtime to seal an important win.
“I’d like to thank our crowd today too. The noise in here was fantastic late on, and certainly fuelled us whenever our heads dropped.”
Hawes finished with 25 points for Ipswich, supported by an impressive 21-point, 13-rebound, seven-block performance from Price. Four other players finished in double-figure scoring and Isebor also registered a double-double.
Ipswich have a break next weekend before hosting London Greenhouse Pioneers on December 15th.