A heated NBL Division One clash between Team Northumbria and city rivals Newcastle University at Sport Central saw the hosts clinch the victory in overtime after fighting off an impressive comeback from the visitors.
The match ended 94-86 in the hosts’ favour after TN had led by 16 at the half. Newcastle led for the first time midway through OT but TN bounced back to take the points.
“Somebody once said there are few things less relevant than a score at halftime in a basketball game and that proved to be true,” said TN coach Mark Steutel.
“There are elements of our performance that were positive but parts of it that were absolutely nowhere near us.
“Credit to Newcastle – they played a really good last 20 minutes – but we’ve got to be better in a lot of aspects.
“Our first half performance was good enough to get us over the line, but the second half our mistakes were all on us.
“Newcastle made some impact but I’m looking back and saying we’ve got to be better in a number of areas – we’ve got to be better with our individual decision making, our team play, our toughness, our communication, our defensive switches, our temperament and our discipline.”
It was clear the rivalry within the game heightened emotions on both sides, resulting in a physical game, with both teams going all out to get the win.
“I think the city rivalry does impact the dynamics of the game a little bit,” added Steutel.
“There’s always that aspect that will impact psychologically – I mean we’ve played them six times this season and we’ve won all six games so they’ve literally got nothing to lose.
“Is that a psychological advantage for them? I don’t know, maybe, maybe not but it’s a credit to our guys that they’ve put in six performances and pulled off six wins.”
TN tackle Hemel and Worthing this weekend as the defending champions look to put pressure on their rivals at the top of Division One.
The former are third and the latter are fourth – with fifth-placed TN well aware that results against two of their closest rivals will have a huge bearing on the final playoff standings.
Two victories and Steutel’s side will believe they can still topple Team Solent and Loughborough and make it back-to-back league titles.
Report by Jonathan Ramsay