A STRONG fourth quarter saw Essex Leopards pick up their sixth Division One victory of the season on Saturday, beating Brixton Topcats 84-63.
Robert Youngblood’s side outscored their hosts 30-14 in the final period to move up to seventh in the table.
Taner Adu led the way for Big Cats, scoring 23 points, while Greg Hernandez added 22, Simon Cummings 15 and Carl Josey 11 in a game that Youngblood sat out of due to a hamstring injury.
However, despite the final scoreline, it was the Topcats who took an 11-4 lead after four minutes, but three-pointers from Adu and Josey saw them stay in touch as they went into the first break trailing 22-17.
That lead was stretched to seven points as Brixton opened the second period scoring, but a Tom Martin three followed by a Hernandez score got the visitors moving, and five straight points from Adu gave them their first lead of the game at 31-28.
Some good defensive work held the hosts to just 10 points in the period and a long jump shot from Cummings followed by Josey’s second three-pointer of the game sent Leopards into the locker room with a 39-32 lead.
Topcats opened the second half strongly with eight straight points to take the lead, but a massive block from Rowell Graham led to a transition three from Adu as Leopards regained the initiative.
A Cummings and-one saw the Big Cats take a 50-44 lead and Adu’s score on the break sent them into the final interval 54-49 ahead.
Cummings made it a seven-point game with the first score of the fourth period and back-to-back scores from Hernandez saw the visitors’ lead stretched to nine.
Leopards’ fitness showed in the final eight minutes as they put on a display of dunking on the break with Ishmael Fontaine, Graham, Cummings and Dan Dunscombe all slamming the ball home.
The lead never dipped into single figures again and Josey effectively wrapped things up with another three-pointer to put the visitors 81-63 ahead going into the final minute, and Hernandez also drained from long range to wrap up the scoring.
Leopards return to action on Saturday at Bradford Dragons, the team just above Leopards in the standings.