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Dominant Lawrence Brown boosts Essex Leopards as they beat Team USA Select
ESSEX Leopards triumphed in their first pre-season friendly of the summer, beating Team USA Select 62-53 on Friday evening.
In front of a capacity crowd at the Brentwood Centre, a Big Cats team missing three new signings, took control in the second period to run out comfortable winners.
Returning centre Lawrence Brown was in dominant form with 19 points, six rebounds and four blocks in 24 minutes of action as the visitors never coped with the seven-foot big man.
Guard Ish Fontaine staked a claim for a starting spot with 11 points, while triallists Benji Lawrence and Sam Iwueke each added eight points.
Fellow new-boy Courtney van Beest also impressed with six assists and seven boards to go with his four points.
Brown opened the scoring for the Big Cats, but the opening exchanges proved to be even as the home side led 12-11 at the five-minute mark before Team USA closed out the period on a 7-2 run to lead 22-17 at the first break.
That was as good as it got for the touring side as Fontaine scored a three-pointer to open the second quarter and launch an 11-0 run which gave Leopards a lead they would never lose.
Free-throws from captain Carl Josey and Van Beest wrapped up the run before returning guard Tom Martin hit a jump shot to send Leopards into half-time with a 37-26 lead.
Fontaine scored another three-pointer to open the second half Leopards’ scoring, and the lead peaked at 16 when Brown converted Iwueke’s pass before the Big Cats entered the final break with a 49-43 lead after a late run from the visitors.
That was as close as Team USA came as Brown and Lawman made it a double digit lead to open the fourth period, and despite Youngblood running his bench, the home side comfortably closed out the victory.
The Big Cats face Team USA’s B side in a scrimmage on Thursday before hosting London Lions at the Brentwood Centre on Sunday, September 22, in their final pre-season game.