MK Lions won for the first time in three BBL outings as a strong fourth quarter saw them edge out the Mersey Tigers 80-87, condemning their hosts to their fifth straight defeat in the process.
Howard Crawford led the Lions with 20 points, while Demarius Bolds scored some crucial baskets on his way to 18. Kris Douse led the Tigers, and all scorers, with 34 points and 11 rebounds.
The Lions edged the first half and didn’t trail after an early Nuno Pedroso three-pointer gave them a 2-5 lead in the opening exchanges – the Tigers tied the game at 7, 9 and 11 but could not get in front and were soon hit by a 10-2 burst from their visitors: 4 Daniel Northern points giving the Lions a 13-21 lead. But the Tigers responded through their defence before the quarter was done, keeping the Lions scoreless for two minutes to end the first ten minutes tied again at 21 on a Douse score.
But the Lions got going again in the second stanza with the first two baskets and a Demarius Bolds three-pointer pushed the score back out to 25-31. They held their lead through to the half at 43-47, with Douse leading the resistance with 21 of those points for the Tigers.
David Aliu’s ‘and one’ score set the tone for the third quarter and made it a one point game at 50-51, before the Tigers took their first lead of the game soon after, at 54-53, on consecutive Douse baskets. There were five lead changes up to a tie at 59 inside the last two minutes of the third, before the Tigers scored the next 5 points and an Aliu triple made the score 64-59, a lead that they carried into the decisive stanza.
The Lions chipped away at their hosts early in the fourth and a 6-2 start narrowed the deficit as the teams were separated by no more than one point for a three minute period before the Lions regained the lead at 76-77 on Adrien Sturt’s score with 4.42 to play. Decisively, the Lions kept the Tigers scoreless for more than four minutes while they turned the screw, scores from Bolds and Stefan Gill moving the score out to 76-81. But after a timeout the Tigers – Douse specifically – rediscovered their touch as Douse notched consecutive baskets to make it a one point game inside the final minute. But Bolds was there again to settle the Lions, and they saw the game out as Pedroso converted three times from the line down the stretch.