By Nigel Slater Monday 07 January 2013 Updated: 10/01 10:41
WORCESTER Wolves began 2013 with a narrow defeat to the Leicester Riders despite a strong second half comeback.
Paul James' side pushed the BBL Championship title contenders all the way at the John Sandford Centre on Saturday night but the home side did enough to boost their title hopes with an 89-82 victory.
The first half saw Wolves struggle to find the form which had seen them win their last three matches as the hosts had the better of the scoring to lead 50-37 at half time.
It was a frustrating half for Worcester as Arturas Masiulis, Sherrad Prezzie-Blue and Alex Owumi were penalised for fouls throughout the opening two quarters.
Wolves came out in the second half in determined fashion and showed their travelling away support the kind of form which has seen them close in on a top four spot in the BBL Championship.
Worcester tightened up their defence forcing the home side into hurried outside shots and at the same time capitalised with breakaway scores of their own.
Triples from Owumi and Prezzie-Blue featured in a 16-2 run which turned the game on its head as Wolves took a surprising 53-52 lead midway through the third quarter.
But Leicester managed to stop the rot and regain composure and control of the game taking a slender 63-57 lead going into the final quarter.
Wolves fought on in the final quarter in search of victory as Kai Williams fired home a couple of baskets. Two free throws from Sherrad Prezzie-Blue saw the sides level at 71-71 with five minutes to go.
But five points from Zaire Taylor helped Leicester regain the lead at 78-72 with two minutes left on the clock. Wolves were later given hope when Arnas Kazlauskas hit a triple to reduce the scores to just four points.
But Taylor netted another three-pointer in the late moments to end any chance of Wolves picking up a result as Leicester gained a vital win.
The defeat resulted in Wolves slipping to sixth place in the BBL Championship table but head coach Paul James was proud of his team's display.
"We started to fight in the third quarter and came back well," he said.
"We fought hard, had a chance towards the end and showed some great spirit. Overall it was a good effort."
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