Coming off two tough away losses, the Eagles were looking to get back to winning ways in their first game in the Newcastle Community Arena. For the second week in a row, the team were without one of their top scorers and had only 10 available players.
A slow start to the game, saw the Eagles miss several easy opportunities as they struggled to adapt to a strange Mersey defence. Turnovers didn’t help their cause and Mersey jumped out to a 6-0 lead after 5mins. The second five for the Eagles knew they would have much to do to turn this around in the second half of the quarter. They picked up their full court defence and steals turned into fouls by Mersey. Unfortunately, Eagles went 0/6 from their FTs. A strong finish to the quarter, however, saw them go up 10-8 after the first 10 minutes.
In the second quarter, the starting 5 started the quarter a lot stronger and were starting to pick apart the Mersey defence. A 10-2 run saw them take a 20-10 lead after the first 5 minutes of the half. The second 5 for the Eagles continued their strong work in putting the Mersey guards under pressure and creating turnovers. However, again, the Eagles were struggling to convert their FTs and had to settle for a 28-14 lead going into the half.
The second half saw the Eagles maintain their pressure. A greatly executed give and go to start the half saw them score some easy lay ups. Their offence was now working effectively, and they powered through the quarter against a tiring 7-woman Mersey team to take the third quarter 18-6 and increase the lead to 46-21.
In the fourth quarter, tiredness kicked in for both teams with the play getting increasingly sloppy. Eagles were scoring at ease however their defensive execution and work rate was now faltering. Having been able to dominate the rebounds in the first three quarters, the Eagles gave up 7 offensive rebounds in the 4th quarter against a tall Mersey team who duly capitalised. The Eagles were in complete control, but mistakes were creeping in and they finished the game with a high scoring 28-19 quarter.
Final score to the Eagles was a comfortable 74-40 win. The Eagles started slowly but picked up their intensity to play some good full court pressure defence to get easy scores. Their half court offence improved over the course of the game with the third quarter being a highlight of how they could execute. The 4th quarter was a disappointing defensive effort by the Eagles who can and should play better in the future. To their credit, Mersey didn’t give up and fought hard to the end with only 7 players available.
Next up for the Eagles is a tough home game against Derby on the 9th of February. Derby were missing some key players last time the Eagles faced and beat them and have some strong shooting guards to contend with.
Scorers: Yemisi MEFFUL – 23 points, Judy ELADAWY – 19 points, Charlotte MILLBURN – 9 points