Surrey United put up a determined display in the second half of their BBL Championship clash with Sheffield Sharks to produce their best performance of the season so far, but with the early damage done, the visitors took away a 88-70 back to Yorkshire.
The second back-to-back of the season for United was sure to be a real test. However, just as they had done against Plymouth in their first, they stunned their visitors by keeping things close through two quarters. Relentless defensive work forced a number of misses for Sharks, allowing United to stay in the competition and even produce their most productive quarter of the season just before half-time.
Surrey United opened the game up taking a slender three point lead over the visitors. However, from there the Sharks took control as they amounted a 17-2 run – with Tuck, Simmons and Jemison being the main contributors.
United would normally, in recent weeks, have dropped even further behind in the contest, and although down by 10, at 22-12, remained firm to score 21 second quarter points. They did, with three minutes remaining, peg the Sharks back to just a four-point lead. Though missed shots for United and conversions for Sharks ensured that they held on to a ten-point half-time lead.
Mike Tuck (11) and Jeremie Simmons (18) continued to be strong for Sheffield, but Ceslovas Kucinskas for the home side showed why he is averaging a double-double per game – going in to the locker room with nine points and seven rebounds.
United shot a decent 8-for-14 from the field, whilst the visitors struggled from distance, making 1-for-5 triples and were just 7-for-18 in total in a quarter Surrey made them own; whittling down the Sheffield lead was many of many positives.
Just three points separating the two sides, the final stanza was ripped into with a 10-2 Sheffield run. As they did, way back in the first quarter, they sought to take control. A further 11-5 run spelt the end of the contest for Surrey, as only two minutes remained.
The two sides were evenly matched this afternoon, and so the Sharks early bite of United which took 15 points from under their feet was the key point in the game. Although Surrey battled back after half time, it was not enough to pull it back and Sheffield closed with dominance.
Surrey’s Elvisi Dusha said after the loss: “Today’s game was much better than before. We started to look and play more like a team whilst connecting a few of our plays together. My thought before the game was to just hope everybody, including me – especially me – bounced back in a positive way following our tough, tough loss in Plymouth.”
Surrey United: McGill 22, Kucinskas 17, Felix 13
Sheffield Sharks: Simmons 20, Tuck 14, Holmes 9
Surrey United away to Newcastle Eagles, Friday 6th December, Sport Central, 7:30pm tip-off.
Sheffield Sharks away to Plymouth Raiders, Sunday 8th December, Plymouth Pavilions, 4:00pm tip-off.