CARDIFF MET ARCHERS 92-109 IPSWICH BASKETBALL
NBL DIVISION II
Cardiff Met University
WORTHING THUNDER 83-77 IPSWICH BASKETBALL
NBL NATIONAL CUP
Worthing Leisure Centre
It was another double-header weekend for Ipswich’s senior men, who played their fourth and fifth games in the last three weekends, visiting Cardiff and Worthing in a 600-mile round trip.
Saturday’s match-up saw the Suffolk side travel to Division II newcomers Cardiff Met Archers in what would become a first-half shootout, with the two sides combining to hit 18 three-pointers in the first half alone.
Ipswich held a nine-point lead after the first quarter and extended that lead to 15 at 38-23 when Jake Eynon and Blake Read hit back-to-back three-pointers to open the second period.
Cardiff mounted a furious comeback, going on a 17-4 scoring run powered by Lloyd Roberts and James Dave which brought the hosts back within two points. Ipswich found their scoring form to stem the tide, but the hosts edged ahead and Jake Kinder’s three-pointer gave Cardiff a four-point edge at half time.
Ipswich started slowly in the second half. Two more three-pointers from Roberts fuelled a 10-2 run for the hosts, who reached their largest lead of the game at 66-54. After a couple of minutes of exchanging baskets, however, Ipswich – with critical contributions from Read, Harry Gent and Jacob Morgan – embarked on a 14-0 scoring run of their own to retake the lead at 75-71.
With both sides’ outside shooting drying up, it was the attacking presence of Eynon and Luke Mascall-Wright which proved the difference, the two combining for 39 points in the second half. Ethan Price, in his first meaningful NBL action of the season, made a statement with three quick-fire dunks as Ipswich broke loose in the fourth quarter. The visitors pulled away for an eventually comfortable 109-92 victory.
Eynon set season-highs across the board in a Player of the Week performance, with 37 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds. Mascall-Wright added 29 points, while Price registered 11 points and seven rebounds in limited minutes. Ben Winter added ten points and eight assists.
Sunday’s visit to Division I contenders Worthing Thunder would require a step up in approach, but Coach Adam Robinson’s side almost pulled off a famous upset on the south coast.
Worthing boast several seasoned Division I campaigners, including Zaire Taylor, Tom Ward and AJ Basi, and were impressive early on as Ward’s lethal outside shooting propelled them to a quick 15-8 advantage.
For Ipswich, Eynon and Mascall-Wright, both of whom have Division I experience of their own, came out with clear intentions of a surprise. The pair combined for 21 first-quarter points, and at the first interval the Suffolk side held a surprise 27-26 lead.
The game remained close throughout the second quarter, neither side able to pull ahead by more than a couple of possessions. An injection of offensive tempo by Taylor saw the veteran hit a couple of key shots late in the quarter, fending off threes from Winter and Steve Hemmings as Ipswich stayed in touch. This time, it was Worthing who held a one-point lead by the end of the period.
Defence became the story of the game as this attritional contest wore on, with each side’s scoring dropping progressively in every quarter of the game. Ipswich were in touch at the end of the third quarter, but a Worthing run midway through the fourth coincided with Eynon rolling an ankle and having to leave the game.
With the Thunder having stretched their lead to 12, Robinson was forced to go on the offensive, and rolled the dice on an aggressive pressing defence late on. The consequences were immediate - Ipswich forced a succession of turnovers from the hosts and made their way within two points, but couldn’t get over the line before a banked three-pointer by Ward in the final seconds sealed the contest in Worthing’s favour.
“It’s been a long, but very successful, weekend,” assessed Robinson. “We knew we needed to get a result from Saturday having lost last week, and the performance today has been really eye-opening. I’m very proud of how the boys never quit during that tough stretch in the fourth quarter.
“We now know what we can aim for as a team in terms of performance, and we are going to have to adjust our expectations as a group.”