On Wednesday night, College Court Report was back inside the Budweiser Gardens for NBL Canada for the first time in over a month. A lot had happened in the league since we last sat in our seat on press row, and it took some time to get caught up.
The March 15th deadline for roster moves came and went, and there were some new faces on the London Lightning bench, including forwards Nick Evans and Eric Kibi, as well as guard Akeem Scott. Some familiar faces were gone, most notably guard Mustafaa Jones, who was released before the deadline.
Despite the changes, the Lightning came into the night with the best record in the Central Division, at 19-9. They were looking for some revenge against the Orangeville A’s, who upset the Lightning inside Budweiser Gardens back on March 5th, 106-103.
Orangeville came in with an 8-22 record, good for last in the Central Division. On paper, the Lightning looked like they would sail to the win. But, that’s why the games are played out, because anything can happen.
Former Buffalo Bulls forward Justin Moss scored a game-high 32 points to go along with 18 rebounds, and the A’s used a big second-half to come away with the 103-91 upset victory over the Lightning.
London got off to a quick start in the game, limiting the A’s on the defensive end of the floor and opening up a 6-point lead less than four minutes into the game.
As the first quarter ticked away, the roles would quickly reverse. Orangeville got hot from the field, while London went ice cold for several minutes. Evans showed some nice footwork in the lane with his back to the hoop, and turned to hit a floater over an A’s defender to bring London back to within , at 17-14.
Orangeville pushed their lead back to 7 before Marcus Capers and Stephen Maxwell threw down back-to-back dunks to cut the deficit to 21-18 late in the quarter. The Lightning lost their momentum at the end of the quarter, as Lewis Jackson hit a three late in the shot clock to give the A’s a 24-18 lead after the opening 12 minutes.
London would fight back in the second quarter, eventually retaking a lead for the first time since the early parts of the opening stanza. Akeem Wright hit a layup to cut the deficit to 1, and Maxwell followed that up with another high-intensity flush to give London a 33-32 advantage.
Back and forth the teams would go to close out the opening half. Ryan Anderson, who was limited in terms of scoring for the entire game, threw a bullet pass to Wright in the lane for another layup to put London ahead by 3. Shortly thereafter, Anderson would score his lone 2 points of the game to restore the three point lead.
At the half, London led by 3, at 43-40. The game was tightly contested in the second quarter, and it set things up for an exciting second half.
Moss got things rolling for Orangeville to open the second half. He threw down a big putback slam to push the A’s ahead by 1, at 46-45. The lead would be short-lived, as London went on a 10-3 run to open up a 6 point lead.
The key cog for the Lightning in the run was the play of Scott. The guard showed no fear while battling for offensive rebounds against bigger Orangeville forwards. His intensity and layups on second-chance opportunities looked to give London the momentum they needed to pull away from the A’s.
But, as the game had gone to that point, Orangeville fought their way back.
Jackson hit a deep two to give the A’s a 58-56 lead, before Nick Okorie went 1-of-2 from the free throw line to cut the deficit in half. Scott hit a fast break layup to tie things at 60-all, but Orangeville would retake a slim two point lead before the quarter was out.
Wright tied things up early in the final frame, getting a layup to fall to knot the game up at 64-all. The see-saw action would continue down the stretch in the quarter, with neither team able to pull away.
Warren Ward connected on three straight three-pointers for the Lightning, but the A’s always had an answer. After his third trifecta, the lead was down to 1, at 75-74, for Orangeville.
The A’s bent, but didn’t break. London threatened to take the lead, but Orangeville held on and hit their free throws down the stretch when it mattered most.
Orangeville outscored the Lightning by 10 in the final frame, and came away with the 103-91 upset victory.
Four different players scored in double-figures for the Orangeville A’s, led by the double-double performance from Justin Moss. Lewis Jackson recorded 25 points and 6 assists, while forward Tyrone Watson added 20 points and 5 rebounds of his own.
Louis Munks chipped in with 10 points and 7 assists off the bench in the win.
For the Lightning, five different players scored in double figures, and every player who checked in scored at least 2 points. Stephen Maxwell put together another double-double performance, recording 17 points to go along with 13 rebounds. Akeem Wright also recorded a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds to go along with 3 blocks.
Akeem Scott scored a team-high 19 points before fouling out late in the fourth-quarter.
As a team, London shot 40.2% from the field, but struggled mightily from the free throw line and three point range. The Lightning went a combined 6-of-13 (46.2%) from the free throw line, and they didn’t attempt a free throw until the third quarter.
London also went a combined 7-of-40 (17.5%) from three point range. Wright (0-of-10), Anderson (0-of-4), and Tyshawn Patterson (0-of-6) all had uncharacteristically cold-shooting nights from long range.
The Orangeville A’s (9-22) notched their second win over the London Lightning (19-10) in the month of March. Both teams will see a lot more of one another as the season comes to an end. The teams will meet four times in the month of April, with the next meeting coming Saturday, April 2nd, at 7pm inside Budweiser Gardens.