The Eagles came into this game following a strong home win last week. They encountered issues early on this week with two players falling ill in the build up to the game, leaving the Eagles shorthanded.
A fantastic start to the game saw the Eagles run out to a 12-0 run and put Derby under pressure early on. The only blemish to the first 5 minutes was the foul trouble that the Eagles got into. The referees were calling the game very tight and the Eagles struggled to adapt. After the first 5 minutes the score was 12-2 to the home team. In the second five minutes, Derby recovered well and pulled the score back. Fouling from both teams meant free throws all round but the Eagles struggle to convert their opportunities and went 1/9 in the first quarter to just hold on to a 13-10 lead.
In the second quarter, both teams adapted to the refereeing a little better and the game was more free-flowing. Both teams had good opportunities and some good finishes around the basket. Derby worked hard on the offensive rebounds and were making the Eagles pay for not boxing out and allowing them multiple opportunities. The Eagles finished the quarter a little stronger however and went into the half with a 30-21 lead.
Further foul trouble by the Eagles in the third quarter cost them dearly and some lapses defensively let Derby get some easy baskets under the rim. Derby were gaining confidence and hit some big shots from outside to close the lead to 46-40 at the end of the third. It was all to play for the fourth quarter.
The start of the fourth quarter saw Derby continue their fine shooting form to cut the lead to 2 before the Eagles responded with two important makes from the free throw line to stop the bleeding. At this point, Derby looked the more likely to win and hit a big and1 to tie the game at 48 with 3 minutes remaining. A timeout by the Eagles settled some nerves and both teams then struggled to convert opportunities. It was the Eagles who finally broke the deadlock, with a little over a minute to go and the shot clock running down, when they hit a massive three to lead 51-48. Derby came straight back down the floor and got fouled and impressively converted two free throws to close the gap to 1 with 33 seconds remaining. Eagles then took their final timeout. Out of the timeout the young players as discussed, used the clock intelligently and executed to perfection to get a 2 point score on the shot clock buzzer and build their lead back up to 3 with 9 seconds remaining. At this point it was Derby’s turn to take a timeout. The Eagles knew they would need a strong defensive possession as Derby had been shooting well all game. Out of the inbounds the Eagles got a crucial steal and ran down the floor to score the contested lay-up. Another steal on the inbound saw the Eagles score again and close the game out 57-50 winners.
The Eagles had to dig deep for this win and showed great composure in the final two minutes of the game. The score somewhat flattered us in the end and Derby put up a fantastic fight in the second half to get back in the game. The Eagles know they weren’t at their best with missed free throws and allowing the other team so many offensive rebounds, costing them again. They will regroup next week as they look to beat a strong Lancashire Spinners team on Sunday the 17th.
Scorers: Yemisi Mefful – 20 points, Izzy Jonas – 11 points, Charlotte Millburn – 9 points