Frustrated Leeds Force crashed to a 24th consecutive defeat of their miserable BBL season today, slumping to a crushing 103-47 reverse to league champions Leicester Riders at Carnegie Sports Arena.
Short-handed Force fought bravely in the opening minutes to keep the title-winning Riders in check, muscling ahead through a quick four-point burst from Gazmend Sinani as Leeds looked to pull off an almost impossible victory.
Fast-starting Force continued to pull no punches in the opening exchanges as club captain Isaac Mourier notched a three to fire the home side into an unlikely lead in an enthralling battle between teams at contrasting ends of the table.
With an almost full-strength squad at their disposal, Leicester upped the tempo and peppered the Force basket with a series of forceful inside drives from Pierre Hampton, enough for Riders to snatch the lead from Leeds’ grasp.
The away side found their feet with the introduction of veteran bench threat JR Holder, who proved the catalyst for a devastating 10-point Riders run to instantly open up a commanding gap as Force desperately searched to plug the gaps in their leaky defence.
Looking to step on the gas pedal and finally pull away, Leicester turned to team talisman and American star Tyler Bernardini whose fiery shooting display surged Riders into a seemingly unassailable 20-point advantage at half-time.
All of Leeds’ first-half efforts were washed away as Leicester turned on the style and marched clear of the fatigued Force in a one-sided third quarter. Mourier and Sinani’s scoring failed to hold Riders back as Leeds’ defence crumbled under relentless pressure from a team who have lost only three league games all year.
Rema Lascelles – brother of Newcastle United captain Jamaal – stunned Leeds with a string of incisive passes whilst Eric Robertson found his form from three-point range to blow open a 50-point advantage for the cruising visitors.
No let off in an equally crushing fourth period saw Leicester eclipse the 100-point mark in emphatic style.