Hull Wasps opening match of the season started with them aiming to extend their first game winning streak to 4 matches but ended with an agonising 3-point defeat to Bradford Dragons II.
The first quarter was a cagey affair as both teams sounded each other out probing for defensive weaknesses. Ben Burns opened the Wasps scoring with his first points of the national league as a Hull player before Captain John Kelsey hit a three and a pair of free throws to propel his team to a narrow 12-11 lead after 10 minutes.
Coach Fawcett rallied his players during the interval and Wasps duly took control of this contest in the 2nd quarter as six different players registered points to spread the scoring and give the Dragons defensive problems. James Rayner, playing his first match for several months after a serious ankle injury, helped himself to 6 points in the quarter, while Matt Brutnell grabbed 5 straight points. A trademark three pointer from Adrian Blatherwick extended the Wasps lead to 34-28 at half-time.
It was a good first half for the Wasps who were executing and sharing the scoring well. Eight of the team scored baskets while at the same time, restricted Dragons’ danger man Donaldson to just 12 points; a player who last season, averaged 24.5 points against the Wasps.
Wasps roared out of the blocks at the start of the third, with new boys Ben Burns and big Matt Wilson sharing 8 points to establish a double digit lead. Hull's defense was cranked up by Coach Fawcett as his team held the Dragons to just 12 points whilst timely three pointers from Burns and Blatherwick extended the Wasps lead to 11 heading into the final period.
The great work of the first three quarters was undone however as the Wasps suffered a fourth quarter collapse allowing the Dragons easy looks at the basket whilst failing to execute at the offensive end. The Dragons outscored the visiting Wasps 19-5 to complete the comeback and take the game 59-56.
Coach Fawcett was naturally disappointed with the opening day defeat. “We failed to do the simple things well and it ultimately cost us” said Fawcett.
“We built up a commanding lead and lost concentration. Today was one of the hardest lessons to learn as a coach and as a team but we will learn from this and move forward."
Ben Burns again impressed for the Wasps as he led the scorers for the second game running with 13 points, whilst Donaldson led all scorers for the Dragons with 22 points.
Wasps will hope to put this defeat behind them as they entertain the Bradford Maroons in the first home game of the season on Saturday 20th October, 6:30pm, Ennerdale Leisure Centre.
Wasps scorers: Burns 13, Rayner 9, Brutnell 9, Blatherwick 8, Wilson 8, Kelsey 5, Brough 2, Marr 2.
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