Ipswich Basketball 83-78 Greenwich Titans
NBL Division 2
Copleston Sports Centre
Lee Hodges hit the go-ahead free-throws before sealing a dramatic victory with an offensive rebound as Ipswich came out on top in a frantic fourth quarter at Copleston Centre on Saturday.
In a game which Ipswich had controlled comfortably in the early going, neither side led by more than three points in the entire fourth quarter until Hodges secured an offensive rebound from an Anton Dixon free-throw, scored the put-back, and was fouled again with four seconds remaining.
Both sides were missing key players. Joel Keeble left the game early for the hosts, who were already missing Will Ashby and Steve Hemmings. The Titans travelled without leading scorer Arturo Noha and centre Tom Adorian. Those who found themselves playing the final minutes of the game, however, played out an exhilarating back-and-forth over the final ten minutes.
Hodges asserted his authority late on, scoring ten of his 14 points inside the final five minutes of the contest, while Luke Mascall-Wright took over the point. Dixon and Jack Spiller, both making their returns to National League this season after several years away, mate game-saving contributions at the defensive end.
The game had started in a much more comfortable fashion for the Suffolk side, who led 29-15 after one quarter with Keeble and Jake Eynon combining for 22 points. Behind the offense of the experienced Jake Murphy, Greenwich started to slowly work their way back into the game, and having led by 20 early in the second quarter Ipswich took a nine-point lead into half-time.
The third quarter was more of the same, with the Titans continuing to chip away as Keeble left the game, Hodges dealt with a blow to the face which required treatment and Eynon appeared to sustain a wrist injury. Bench scoring kept Ipswich in the contest, Cameron Hawes leading the way with nine points in 11 minutes.
The final quarter was played out with more emotion than basketball efficiency, and a raucous Copleston crowd roared the hosts on against an equally amped-up Greenwich bench. After Hodges had put Ipswich ahead by one at 79-78 with under 30 seconds to play, the Titans managed to draw a foul. Wahabayinla missed both free-throws, however, and Dixon was fouled almost immediately on coming down with the rebound.
He made his first free throw before missing the second, but Hodges was alive for the rebound and secured victory by converting the put-back attempt while drawing a further foul.
“We delivered such a determined performance throughout the fourth quarter that we thoroughly deserved the victory,” said Head Coach Adam Robinson. “We still haven’t strung a whole game together and that showed in the third quarter, but the fight to get over the line was fantastic.
“Huge praise to Jack and Anton for the parts they played in the later stages there – we don’t get this win without their constant commitment defensively.”
An increasingly beaten-up Ipswich are on the road this weekend as they travel to London Greenhouse Pioneers.