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Coventry Crusaders (30) 65
Plymouth Raiders (26) 69

Dip DonaldsonCoventry Crusaders slipped to another home defeat as a rare playing appearance by coach Dip Donaldson ending with his dismissal for pushing.

Plymouth, complete with a noisy set of their own fans, went top of the table after this close match at Coventry Sports Centre.

Tight defence marked the early period of play, with neither side making much of a breakthrough. Crusaders ended the first quarter two points down, with Derrick Pope getting eight of the team’s 13 points.

The second quarter saw the Crusaders step things up a notch and Pope continued his domination inside, with some fine contributions by Eduard Girbal and Alvin Scott.

At the end of the first half Bupa Crusaders had taken the lead and were ahead 30-26.

Todd Cetnar, Plymouth's new signing from the USA who has dominated the score sheet so far this season, was kept to a mere two points in the first half by tough defence by Matt Collins, Dom Davis and Girbal.

In the third quarter the Crusaders loosened up a bit and relaxed their stranglehold on the defensive end of the floor.

Cetnar found his shooting form and launched five three-pointers in the space of just a few minutes.

In this scoring spree Plymouth went from 29 - 37 to lead 43 - 38.

Player-coach Dip Donaldson, who was making a rare appearance in Crusader kit, contributed four points during his on court appearance, but was then involved in a pushing incident which saw him being ejected from the game.

This seemed to instil some life into his team-mates, and by the end of the third quarter Crusaders were still in the contest, only trailing by 3 at the interval.

Coming into the fourth quarter the Crusaders were faced with a full court press put on by the Raiders and a zone defence.

Unfortunately, the Crusaders did not adapt quickly enough to the strategy, and although they trailed by as much as eight, the Raiders could not shake them off.

With tenacity, the Crusaders continued to come back at the Raiders, and in the last minute managed to creep within three points of levelling the score. 

Time ran out for the home side and the Raiders once again took the spoils, leaving the Crusaders with their first defeat in the new NBL Conference 65 - 69.

Derrick Pope was once again the backbone of the Crusaders and his play has lifted the team over the last two games. This will be a key to success for the Crusaders season.

Matt Collins played his heart out and the injured point guard still ended up with 13 points. Alvin Scott looks to be his old self again with 9 points and a number of rebounds and some big blocked shots to anchor the Crusaders defence.

After the game Dip Donaldson said;

"We missed ten free throws and at least six lay-ups that would have been a major plus if we had made them.

“I was pleased with the way the team played with all the heart they had, we are still not at full strength, so we have room to grow and get better.

“Plymouth are a very good team, and they hit some big time shots that we couldn't match when it counted, but we will get better and continue to learn as a young team."

Bupa Crusaders scorers: Rhooms 2, Donaldson 4, Girbal 5, Davis 6, Scott 9, Collins 13, D. Pope 26

Raiders scorers: Love 2, Durham 4, Deng 4, Knechtel 9, Wellington 9, Williams 17, Cetnar 24
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CWN / Sport / Basketball / Coventry Crusaders / 13 Nov 00
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