Wilson bags 36 as Ipswich come close to upset at title contenders

Ryan Wilson led Ipswich with 36 points in their defeat at Thames Valley. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA

Ryan Wilson led Ipswich with 36 points in their defeat at Thames Valley. Picture: PAVEL KRICKA - Credit: Archant

NBL Division Two Thames Valley Cavaliers 99 Ipswich 90 Ipswich finished their first half of the season with a mightily impressive performance at league title contenders Thames Valley Cavaliers, coming up just short of an upset win.

Coach John Ellis’ side sit inside the play-off places at Christmas, as they close 2017 with a 5-6 record – incidentally an almost identical record to this time last season.

A much-changed roster has experienced plenty of inconsistency so far, never winning or losing more than two league games in a row to date – but many signs from Saturday’s encounter pointed to a strong second half of the season to come.

The Cavaliers were looking to extend an eight-game winning run as they welcomed the Suffolk side to Uxbridge, and made a strong start behind the offense of veteran forward Phil Perre, who had eight points in the first quarter.

But on the back of three-pointers from Ben Winter and Rabi Rai late in the period, Ipswich ended the first quarter even.

Ryan Wilson had scored 18 points in the first quarter for Ipswich, and as he was rested in the second, it was Winter who made several important shots to keep Ipswich in touch.

The hosts held a seven-point lead, 53-46 at half-time, and Coach Ellis stressed the importance of limiting Thames Valley’s key scorers.

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Having conceded 53 points in the first half, Ipswich succeeded in slowing down the Thames Valley offense after the break, and pulled level at 80-80 with around five minutes to go.

A decisive sequence soon after saw Thames Valley score two quick baskets and make two free throws, giving the hosts an eight-point gap once more, and Ipswich couldn’t find the long-range shots needed to claw back the deficit.

“We did pretty much what I wanted on the defensive end today,” said coach Ellis. “Thames Valley are renowned for their many scoring options, and we forced their featured players into a lot of bad shots.

“Unfortunately, we were missing a lot of front-court players, and as a result we struggled to rebound against the tallest team in the division – that really hurt us.”

Wilson finished with a game-high 36 points for Ipswich; Rai added 19 and Winter scored 17. For the Cavaliers, Martelle McLemore racked up 32 points.

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