Ipswich Basketball 94-84 Westminster Warriors
NBL Division II
Copleston Sports Centre
A stellar shooting performance saw Ipswich come back from an early deficit to take a crucial victory at home to Westminster Warriors on Saturday.
The Warriors, who defeated Ipswich last month to lift the Patrons Cup trophy, poured in 34 first-quarter points behind a strong start by forward Justin Hitchman, and led by as many as 13 early on.
Veron Eze and Cameron Hawes started well for the hosts, but it was reserves Blake Read and Rabi Rai who changed Ipswich’s pace when they entered the game in the second quarter.
The pair combined for 12 points in the period – as many as Westminster managed – and each made numerous key defensive plays.
Having engineered themselves into a half-time advantage, the hosts picked up the pace from outside in the third quarter. Eze, Hawes and Marvin Isebor connected for six three-pointers in the period, as Westminster’s every effort at a comeback was rebuffed.
Scores by Jon Johnson and Phil Lartey brought Westminster level at 83-83, after Ipswich had led by as many as 11, but once again John Ellis’ side had the answer. Winter scored a driving lay-up and Hawes followed up with a three-pointer to kick-start a 9-0 scoring run which put Ipswich over the line.
Eze finished with a game-high 24 points and eight rebounds for Ipswich. Winter followed up with 20 points while Hawes added 18. Hitchman led the Warriors with 22.
The win moves Ipswich back into the playoff places, and comes as a welcome reward after a winless February.
Coach Ellis hailed the victory as “a significant step forward for our team”.
“We have been inconsistent over the last month and struggled for a steady effort over a full game,” he said.
“What can be frustrating is showing for long spells every game that we have that higher level – and today we managed to turn in a full game of high-level basketball.
“I was very pleased with our shot selection and our defence – after the first quarter – was outstanding.”
Ipswich now face a string of away games, starting with a trip to Greenwich Titans next Saturday.