Big win for Big Cats

Leopards collected their 12th league victory of the season and – crucially – sealed the head-to-head decider with a 93-91 victory at Leicester Warriors, on Saturday.
Thomas Baker’s side led for most of the game at Braunstone Leisure Centre, but had to withstand a late fight-back from the hosts to record a victory that realistically means they need one win from their final four games to seal a place in the post-season.
It was Leopards’ big men who did most of the damage as Asante Sandiford led the visitors with 28 points and five rebounds, while Lee Hodges added a 19 point, ten rebound double-double. Chuck Duru came off the bench to add 18 points while captain Sam Newman finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
The Big Cats started slowly but five straight Sandiford points gave them their first lead of the game, and Sandiford launched a 9-0 run capped by a lay-up from Daniel Wagnener to put them 16-9 up after six minutes play.
Duru hit his second trey of the game before completing an and-one, and the British forward hit a jump shot as Leopards led 26-18 at the first beak.
Hodges opened the second period scoring to make it a double-diget lead, and with Rory Winter converting three straight free-throws as Leopards remained comfortably ahead witout pulling away.
Six straight Hodges points kept Leopards ahead as they shared 50 points in the quarter, and Duru again scored from the Land of Plenty as the visitors went into the locker room with a 51-43 lead,
The hosts opened the second half strongly with six straight points before Newman broke the run.
The home side failed to get any closer than two points in the third period, and a Newman triple followed by a driving Sandiford lay-up sent the Big Cats into the final break with a 75-68 lead.
Duru drove to the basket for the opening score of the fourth period, and a Hodges lay-up followed by a three-point play saw his side lead 88-81 at the five minute mark.
Back-to-back scores from Findlay Wood kept Leopards’ at seven with three minutes remaining but after scoreless 90 seconds Raheem Thomas-Edwards cut the advantage to five.
A pair of free-throws from Chingombe followed by a Taylor Johnson lay-up saw that lead sliced to a single point going into the final 30 seconds.
Newman missed a three-pointer but grabbed the rebound before being fouled. But with the hosts not in the penalty they were forced to foul Hodges who sunk the first at foul line and although his second bobbled out, Leopards had done enough to take the win.
Johnson led Warriors with 25 points, six rebounds and as many assists, while Thomas-Edwards finished with a 23 point, 14 rebound double-double in a 40 minute performamce.