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Worcester Wolves 94 Milton Keynes Lions 86
6:40pm Sunday 19th February 2012 in Match Reports
AN impressive all-action performance by Carlos Fernandez helped Worcester Wolves consolidate second spot in the British Basketball League with a nerve-wracking and hard-fought home success over Milton Keynes Lions.
The Spaniard was in top form and finished with a superb 18 points and 12 rebounds, and also claimed seven assists to get within touching distance of a stunning and rare triple-double.
Team-mate Richie Gordon also racked up a double-double by registering 20 points and 10 rebounds to see off a Lions team who had looked like they might spring a surprise.
But, as has been so common this season, there was little to cheer for Lions coach Mike New outside of the contributions of guard Demarius Bolds and centre Daniel Northern.
Prior to the game, New had complained that his side had been disrespected in the last encounter between the two teams back in December when Wolves took a late time out despite having already sealed the victory.
A powerful dunk from Fernandez with no time left on the clock in this match will have done nothing to foster better relations.
Wolves director of basketball Paul James said: “It’s always hard to play against Milton Keynes. They’re scrappy, aggressive and try to intimidate you. We did a great job in keeping our heads and getting a fantastic win in the end.”
After falling 8-7 behind, Wolves posted a 10-1 burst to help take command at 24-12 at the end of the first quarter.
In danger of being blown away early, New needed a response from his team and he got it as the visitors came alive with a superb start to the second period.
They left home supporters stunned by scoring 16 of the first 18 points to not only overturn the deficit but take the lead through a basket by Nuno Pedroso.
While Gordon broke the Wolves’ drought to level the scores, the hosts couldn’t find their shooting touch and barely broke double digits as the contest remained all-square at half-time.
Wolves always looked the most likely to make a game-winning run in the third quarter, firstly moving 45-38 in front and then increasing their advantage to 59-51 after free-throws from Tommy Freeman.
However, Lions rallied and scored the last six points of the period to make it a one-shot game heading into the final quarter.
Milton Keynes looked to be done at 81-72 behind with just two minutes remaining but they fought hard to recover and set up a thrilling finale.
Three-pointers in the closing stages from Stefan Gill and Pedroso cut the gap to just 88-86 with 30 seconds remaining, but Wolves held their nerve to score the last six points of the contest to take the win.
As well as the performances of Fernandez and Gordon, there were steady displays from Freeman and Arnas Kazlauskas who scored 22 and 21 points respectively. Bolds scored 33 points for Lions, supported by 18 from Northern.