Team Northumbria kicked off their National Basketball League Men’s Trophy campaign with a 16-point defeat of derby rivals Team Newcastle.
The mouth-watering tie was played at Sport Central – the home of both teams during the regular season.
However, the advantage swayed TN’s way early in the first quarter as Marc Steutel’s men took a 23-17 lead at the interval.
The six-point advantage was met with a Team Newcastle resurgence in the second quarter as the ‘hosts’ capitalised on TN’s mistakes to score back-to-back three pointers and tie the score at 31-31.
“We had to play better defence,” said Northumbria University’s head coach Steutel.
“I didn’t like our defence throughout the game and that is going to be a massive area for us moving forward.”
There was cause for concern when TN’s Lewis Champion went down injured at the outset of the third quarter.
Despite this he carried on and made a big impact on the game – most notably driving to the basket, converting and drawing a foul in the process.
Team Newcastle fell behind down the stretch due to four missed free throws on the bounce which allowed TN a comfortable and uncontested finish to the game as they closed out an 82-66 win.
“The officials did a good job in a very scrappy game,” added Steutel.
“They were consistent and they called the same both ways. [But] when the margin of victory in 16 points the officials are not a factor.”
Steutel went on to insist that his team are taking their season game by game with old foes Bradford Dragons due assort Central on Sunday (4pm tip).
The West Yorkshire side have yet to pick up a point in Pool 2 of the National Trophy having lost their first game to Team Newcastle. TN sit top of their group after victory against their cross-city rivals.
Report by Dan Simmonite