Murtagh lifts Spinners by Westminster

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(Photo: Jack Hinds)


Connor Murtagh scored all 16 of his points in the second half to help lift the Lancashire Spinners past Westminster Warriors 84-71 on Saturday.

The forward, who last led the team in scoring back on Nov. 14, shot just 5-for-16 for the game and missed his first seven attempts and his first field goal came 34 seconds in the fourth quarter.

Aitor Estrada had 15 points, including four 3-pointers, as he made his first start of the year in place of Mike Bernard (illness). Steven Gayle added 12 points for the Spinners (18-8, 9-6 NBL1).

Seventh-placed Lancashire shook off what was an evenly matched contest early in the second quarter following Gayle’s triple, which broke a 21-all tie. The Spinners then went on a 10-0 run as Westminster was held without a field goal for almost two minutes.

“It was the team performance we’ve been looking for. I’m really proud of how the younger guy played and how Aitor stepped up,” said Spinners coach Neal Hopkins, who got 38 points from his bench.

Jonathan Johnson had a game-high 22 points and Yannick Bulambwe added 13 and 12 rebounds to lead the Warriors (9-15, 2-12), who were short-benched. They shot 40 percent but committed 13 turnovers, which Lancashire converted into 13 points.

The hosts built their largest advantage of 17 points with 3:55 remaining in the first half and the Warriors would get no closer than six after the break.

Johnson hit a three to cut the deficit to nine but Alex Roberts immediately pushed the Spinners into double-digits for good following a jump shot four minutes into the fourth quarter.

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Lancashire shot just 39 percent from the floor (31 of 79) after going 17-for-36 in the first half. … The Spinners won the rebounding battle by a plus-20 margin (39-19) and were 12-for-14 at the free throw line. … Murtagh played a team-high 24 minutes followed by Steven Vaughan who logged nearly 22. … The Spinners attempted 38 3-pointers and made just 10.

NEXT UP

The Spinners travel to Tees Valley Mohawks on Saturday before hosting five of the next six games at Castle Leisure Centre.

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Spinners fall to Northumbria

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(Photo: Jack Hinds)

Chuck Duru scored nine fourth quarter points and Northumbria pulled away from the Lancashire Spinners for its third-straight Division One win on Sunday.

Northumbria, who held s 51-48 lead, scored on seven of its first eight possessions to start the fourth quarter in the 78-64 victory.

“We made a lot of key stops down the stretch and credit to Sam [Stewart] and Jack [Preston] for crashing the offensive boards, which allowed us to put the game away,” said Duru who tied for a game-high with 14 points.

Mark Rangeley matched Duru to lead the Spinners (17-8, 8-6 NBL1) with 14 points on 6-for-13 shooting. He also had nine rebounds.

Mike Bernard and Connor Murtagh added 10 each in the loss, which drops Lancashire into eighth in the standings alongside a trio of teams on 16 points.

Northumbria (15-6, 9-3) broke open a 22-11 game in the second quarter using an 11-2 run over a four-minute stretch before being held without a field goal until the 1:19 mark. Rangeley knocked down a 3-pointer sparking a 10-2 response to close the half.

“We can’t be chasing games and it’s happening far too often,” he said. “We need to go all the way back to basics.”

Lancashire erased what had once been a 19-point lead as Murtagh hit back-to-back threes giving the Spinners a 39-38 advantage two and half minutes into the third quarter.

The lead exchanged hands six times in a stretch of six minutes, though the Spinners never held one larger than a point.

“It was the worst we’ve played as a team this year and we’ve taken a big step backwards after the win last week,” said Spinners coach Neal Hopkins. “Today was one of those games where I walked away utterly disappointed with the performance.”

The visitors came up empty on their first five opportunities at the offensive end to start the fourth quarter, including a pair of missed free throws by Bernard.

Murtagh cut the deficit to 57-50 following a steal and dunk in the open court with 7:38 remaining but a 9-2 run pushed the Northumbria lead back to double digits.

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Lancashire shot 39.7 percent from the floor (23 for 58) but hit just eight of its 22 attempts from beyond the arc. … The Spinners won the rebounding battle 43-40 but committed 16 turnovers. … Steven Gayle had nine points after scoring 31 in the overtime win against London Lituanica.

Northumbria was 12 of 15 from the line but shot 38.7 percent (29 for 75). … Neil Randolph, who had averaged 16 points against the Spinners, only had 12. … Stewart had 15 total rebounds with 12 coming at the defensive end. … Preston had five offensive boards.

NEXT UP

The Spinners host Westminster Warriors at Castle Leisure Centre on Saturday, tipoff 5.45pm.

Northumbria travels to Worthing Thunder, also on Saturday.

Spinners to test Northumbria

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(Photo: Jack Hinds)


Lancashire ends a stretch of three-straight road games when it visits fourth-placed Northumbria on Sunday. Tipoff is set for 3pm at the Benfield Sports Centre in Newcastle.

The Spinners (17-7, 8-5 NBL1) split a weekend set losing to Essex Leopards before securing a bizarre overtime win against London Lituanica the following the day.

Steven Gayle scored a season-high 31 points with 25 coming after halftime. The bulk of his scoring was done at the free throw line where he was 15 for 16 – Lancashire made 26 of its 34 attempts from the stripe.

The Bury-based club can finished anywhere from fourth to eighth place in the standings at the end of the weekend as there is a four-way tie on 16 points. A win would help the hosts keep pace with league leaders Manchester Magic (24-2, 12-1).

Northumbria (14-6, 8-3) is looking to match its longest league winning-streak of three games having  already defeated the Leopards and Tees Valley behind 23 points from Neil Randolph.

Sunday will be the fourth meeting this season between the two with Lancashire holding a 2-1 record head-to-head. Though Northumbria claimed an 81-74 league win on Oct. 24.

The Spinners’ two wins came in the National Trophy group stage and National Cup third round.

Connor Murtagh, who record just two points versus London and a total of 10 over the last two games, remains the team’s leading scorer and rebounder in divisional play with 14.8 and 6.5 per game, respectively. He’s shooting just over 50% for the season and 53% in Division One.

The forward has not led the Spinners in scoring in an individual game in over two months but he’s has averaged 16 points against Sunday’s opponent, including a 23-point effort in October.

Randolph has matched that effort and his highest output against is 20 points.

Lancashire has a 5-3 road record, 8-3 overall, in league play but is 2-3 in its last five trips away from Castle Leisure Centre.

Northumbria is 6-0 (9-1 overall) at home in the division, scoring 79.8 points whilst only giving up 71.2.