Basketball
Kazlauskas guides Wolves to thrilling win

By Nigel Slater Monday 26 November 2012 Updated: 28/11 17:16

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Buy photos » Arnas Kazlauskas was the hero as Worcester Wolves gained a vital 71-68 win over the Sheffield Sharks. Picture by Keith Hunt.

ARNAS Kazlauskas held his nerve in the dying seconds to secure Worcester Wolves a thrilling three point win over the Sheffield Sharks.

In a pulsating contest, Wolves had a single point lead at 69-68 with just eight seconds remaining when Sheffield's Zach Gachette clumsily pulled the Lithuanian to the floor meaning a vital two penalty shots for the home side.

Kazlauskas made no mistake as he helped his team to a 71-68 win and register their fifth straight league win at the University of Worcester.

After a disappointing defeat to the hands of the London Lions just 24 hours before, it was vital for Wolves to bounce back to help keep their slim hopes of winning the BBL Championship alive and strengthen their hold on a top eight finish.

But it was the visitors who started the better as Sheffield were able to shackle the dangerous Stan Ocitti and Alex Owumi early on to give themselves a 16-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter saw the home side spring into action as forward Daniel Belgrave floated in a long-range shot to reduce Wolves' early deficit. But Sheffield hit back with scores from powerful trio Olu Babalola, Mike Tuck and Andrew Bridge.

A timeout from the visitors was then called but it had the opposite effect as Wolves went on a surge of scoring to the delight of the home crowd. Ruthless attacking play from Owumi helped level the scores before successive baskets from Carlos Fernandez completed a dramatic turnaround which saw Worcester lead at half time.

Kazlauskas opened the second half scoring but the match tightened up yet again when Sheffield hit seven consecutive points to go just 46-43 behind midway through the third period. Neither side was then able to take control of the rest of the contest as Wolves led 56-53 going into the all important final period.

Belgrave extended Wolves lead but the Sharks refused to give in and soon replied, reducing their deficit to just two points with six minutes remaining. Owumi widened Wolves' lead to four points before a brilliant three-pointer from Demitrius Johnson put the match on a knife-edge with just one point in it.

Wolves had the chance to seal the game when they were awarded free fouls after Johnson was sent off for unsportsmanlike behaviour but Kazlauskas fell short on both throws.

But Gachette's clumsy foul in the final seconds gave the Lithuanian a reprieve and he made sure of a Wolves win second time around.

Wolves stay fifth in the BBL Championship table with 14 points from their 13 matches and are eight points behind leaders Leicester Riders.

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