In a tightly-contested affair, Exeter men’s basketball 1s suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of Bristol, losing by a score of 75-65 in favour of the away side. The loss is a major setback for the Green Army and their hopes of catching Southampton at the top of the table.
Exeter came into the match third in the table, knowing that a win would be crucial in keeping pace with UWE in second and put them within touching distance of first-placed Southampton Solent. However the visitors Bristol, despite entering the fixture placed bottom of the league, started the game very strongly.
Right from tip-off it was an aggressive and closely-contended match-up. In what proved to be a slow-scoring first half, Bristol frustrated the home side with a strong defensive play, limiting Exeter to plays from outside of the perimeter. Their offense also was proving effective; claiming the majority of the rebounds and attacking with pace up the court.
Bristol gradually built a commanding 14-6 lead coming into the end of the first quarter. After several time-outs called by the Exeter coach, however, the home side eventually seemed to click into gear with a late flurry of five consecutive points including a three-pointer from Joel De Lara Bond.
It looked hopeful that the men in green could maintain their momentum going into the second period but several misplaced passes only saw Bristol extend their lead. Again, Bristol were highly compact in their defensive zone, very quickly getting back in numbers to crowd out the Exeter attacks. In offense, both the Bristol power forward and centre were clinical in punishing costly Exeter errors.
The mistakes were uncharacteristic of a side full of confidence after two consecutive victories in the league. However, Exeter again finished the quarter strongly, pegging back the increasingly sizeable gap to 12 points as the first half ended 21-33 in favour of the away side.
Exeter’s coach gave his team a stern talking to at the half time break and they appeared galvanised as they came out for the third quarter. A comeback seemed promising as Dimitri Kakkavas reduced the deficit down to five points; nailing three baskets in a row including an impressive lay-up under pressure.
The Bristol coach seemed concerned, calling for his team to regroup during a timeout. Just when it seemed like Exeter had been given a route back into the match, the visitors pressed on the accelerator. A run of nine consecutive baskets from the away side including some more impressive play from power forward, stretched their lead into a seemingly insurmountable 16 points.
However, in what was quickly proving a topsy-turvy affair, Exeter again launched yet another comeback towards the end of the quarter. A fruitful last spell saw the home side reduce the arrears to seven points. A strong showing in the last quarter could see them clinch an unlikely victory.
Exeter made the rip-roaring start to the last quarter that the crowd demanded as they laid assault to the Bristol basket. Eight points in a row including two impressive three-pointers from De Lara Bond and Kakkavas meant that the home team were now in the ascendancy.
At 55-54 to Exeter it seemed as if the match was in their hands. However, once more Bristol consolidated and regrouped, steadying the tide. Exeter perhaps paid for being too eager to push forward instead of protecting the ball as the match moved towards its climax. Bristol again moved 10 points clear. The final buzzer sounded with Exeter falling to a disappointing 65-75 defeat.
Nevertheless, the home side can undoubtedly take plenty of consolation from the spirit and determination shown in the closing stages of the game. Bristol just proved the more decisive team when it really mattered. The result leaves Exeter in third place with nine points after six games. Hopefully they can bounce back next week with the chance to move up to second place when they face a tough side in UWE.
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