Leeds Force’s hopes of ending 2017 on a high ended disastrously tonight, as they suffered a 105-53 battering against the high-flying Leicester Riders despite Force claiming a shock lead to end the first-quarter.
Force looked to avenge their BBL Trophy thumping at the hands of the Riders last time out, and a fiery start saw Leeds leap into a quick lead – charging ahead courtesy of Eric Curth’s acrobatic effort as the league leaders stumbled out of the gates.
Leeds skipper Isaac Mourier boosted Force’s magnificent first 10 minutes by converting on a three-point play, before American star Tavarion Nix threw down a vicious slam dunk as the valiant Force continued to duel admirably with the table-toppers.
Back-to-back baskets from new signing Adrian Kuyinu and Rafail Tsourakis’ deadly long-range triple kept Leeds afloat, before Curth’s spectacular buzzer-beating three clinched a one-point lead and capped a memorable Force first quarter showing.
A scintillating second quarter saw Riders ramp up the pressure with a sea of trebles, as the hosts began to rediscover their shooting form whilst Leeds desperately clung to Leicester’s coat-tails.
Force’s strong shooting quickly gave way to a disastrous icy streak that saw Leeds tally a miserable five points in a desolate 10-minute spell – enough to earn Leicester an emphatic 17-point lead at half-time as the pendulum of momentum swung in the host’s favour.
The comfortable Riders continued to slip from Force’s grasp in the third, with TrayVonn Wright’s soaring slam barrelling Leicester into a commanding 30-point lead to put the result beyond any doubt.
Having missed the opening half, the returning Tre Bennett’s silky spinning finish offered a flicker of hope for the fading Force – not enough to turn the tide as Leicester’s sharp-shooters continued to mercilessly pick apart Leeds’ demolished defences.
Bennett’s inclusion injected some much-needed energy into the faltering Force line-up with the Houston native racking up a quick seven points, not enough to spark a comeback as the rampant Riders brought a dismal end to 2017 for Leeds Force.