Worthing Thunder ended their north-east odyssey with a narrow 88-83 loss to Team Northumbria in an NBL Division 1 clash at Sport Central on Sunday afternoon.

Despite coming back from a 22-point deficit to tie the game in the final quarter, Thunder were never able to take the lead and build upon it in a game that saw Northumbria lead from tip to buzzer.

Brendan Okoronkwo led Thunder with 24 points and 17 rebounds with Zaire Taylor adding 16 points and nine boards. Marquis Mathis had 15, while Josh Goddard shot an impressive 70 percent from the field for his 14 points.

“On the second leg of a back to back, it’s unacceptable to dig ourselves into a hole like we did in the first quarter, our effort level simply wasn’t there,” said Okoronkwo.

“We did a great job to regroup, but in that situation, one or two mistakes and you come up short. Our goal though was to make playoffs first, home court, second then compete for the title. We still have seven games to achieve the goals in our control - right now that’s a top-four finish.”

Even though Thunder came away with the loss, they still crucially hold the head-to-head over Team Northumbria as their 85-76 win at the Worthing Leisure Centre trumps Northumbria’s win tonight, which could prove important at the end of the regular season.

Malcolm Smith led Team Northumbria with 30 points and 11 rebounds.

It was a tough start for Thunder, as the hosts attacked straight from the get-go racing to an 8-0 lead before a singular free throw from Mathis put Worthing on the board. However, the visitors struggled to put points on the board, despite opportunities as Team Northumbria eased into a 29-11 cushion.

Thunder regrouped in the second quarter and managed to put points on the board thanks to two three-pointers in quick succession from James Grinham. Northumbria though were matching Worthing punch for punch though and at the half were able to take a 49-34 lead.

Okoronkwo got Thunder off to the perfect start in the third with a three-pointer, but despite positive offensive spells, the visitors still managed to hold a sizeable lead. That was until Goddard popped up with six points in quick succession to reduce the deficit to single digits with Jorge Ebanks scoring in the final seconds to further shrink Northumbria’s lead to 61-54 heading into the final quarter.

Thunder then managed to tie the game at 65-65 in the early stages of the fourth thanks to a score from Goddard, but Smith instantly reclaimed the lead for the hosts and that was the way it stayed, despite pressure from Thunder, who narrowed the gap to a single point late on, Northumbria managed to seal the win from the foul line. 

    

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