After a month without a game, the Crusaders NBL4 Men returned to action with a 73-63 win over the Richmond Knights.
Despite a 4th quarter comeback from Richmond, that saw a 15 point advantage erased, Crusaders closed the game on an 11-1 run to secure the victory.
Jonathan Brown continued his recent outstanding play with 26 points, With Milo Gordon adding 15 (including 6 points in the deciding run) and Elliot Bailey 13.
“I’m really pleased with our performance overall today, but we have to improve our consistency with focus,” said Crusaders head coach Jesse Sazant. “Richmond have some very good, experienced players and I thought our young guys really stepped up today. I thought Flynn Boardman was excellent for them today and made some big plays.”
Crusaders set the tone early in the game with disruptive defence and up tempo offence as Brown scored 8 points in a game opening 16-2 run. But just as quickly as they established the lead, they switched off and Richmond answered with their own 15-1 run to level the game at 17 after the first quarter.
The teams traded baskets for the first 6 minutes of the second quarter. But then Crusaders took off again as 5 different players contributed to 15 unanswered points. They managed to hold Richmond scoreless until halftime, establishing a 43-27 lead.
Richmond repeatedly tried to chip away at the lead in the third, but never got closer than 7. Again Crusaders finished the quarter strongly with 8 straight points to lead 59-44 entering the fourth.
The wheels then fell off as Crusaders failed to score for 6 minutes, with Richmond cutting the lead to 2. A 3 from Bailey gave them momentary respite but again 5 straight points from Richmond levelled the scores at 62 with 2 minutes left.
For the third quarter in a row, Crusaders finished strong. Back to back scores from Gordon gave pushed it back to a 2 possession game followed by a 3 from Brown to give them a bit of breathing space on their way to the 73-63 win.
Sazant concluded, “I was really impressed with Richmond and their set up. This was a great game to be involved with and hopefully gives us some momentum.”
Next week Crusaders host league leaders Barking Abbey at Brompton Academy on Saturday.