Newcastle Eagles – Andrew Bridge 19, Joe Chapman 15, Darius Defoe/Reggie Jackson 12
Everton Tigers – James Jones 20, Kevin Bell 16, Olu Babalola 14
The Newcastle Eagles took a share of second place in the BBL Championship after beating the Everton Tigers 88-82 at the MetroRadio Arena. It is the second time that the Eagles have overcome the Tigers this season, whom they also beat to the league and playoff titles last year.
Andrew Bridge led the hosts with 19 points, supported by 15 from Joe Chapman and 12 each for Darius Defoe and Reggie Jackson. James Jones led the Tigers, and all scorers, with 20 points.
The Eagles had the better of the early exchanges and after a tight opening they managed to edge into a 16-11 lead. However, the Tigers came back with the next six points to take the lead, which they held at 18-19 after the opening ten minutes.
The Tigers continued their run with the first five points of the second quarter, meaning that they went 13-2 around the quarter break. Everton’s lead reached double-figures when Bell’s three-pointer made it 22-32 midway through the period. But the Eagles came back with an 8-3 push to make it 30-35. Just as the Eagles looked as they were getting close, Chris Haslam and James Jones hit back-to-back three-pointers and the Tigers led 35-43. But the Eagles did score the last five points of the half, including a buzzer-beating triple from Andrew Bridge, to go into the locker rooms just 40-43 in arrears.
The Eagles found themselves trailing 40-48 early in the third, until they mounted their charge. The hosts narrowed the gap through the next six minutes, and got the lead back with consecutive three-pointers from Bridge at 58-57. The Eagles took a 60-57 lead into the decisive quarter. They completed the turnaround early in the fourth as they edged their way out to a 73-64 lead, but the Tigers had one last go within the final minute. It was back to a one possession game as back-to-back baskets made it 81-78 but Stewart, Flournoy and Chapman kept their cool at the free-throw line late on to see the Eagles to the win.
Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders – Minor/Johnson 29, Wierzbicki 21
Newcastle Eagles – Smith 21, Stewart 20, Chapman 19
The Newcastle Eagles leapfrogged over the Marshall MK Lions into second place in the BBL Championship table thanks to a 94-102 victory over the Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders at the John Sanford Centre on Saturday evening.
Both sides traded baskets in the opening exchanges, but it was the Eagles who made the first break in the game as a Lynard Stewart basket sparked a 12-2 burst for the Eagles to take the score out to 22-10. The Eagles maintained their advantage for the remainder of the opening period as they ended the quarter leading 16-29.
In the second quarter the Riders attempted to get themselves back into the game and were able to reduce the deficit to eleven points at 32-43, but a Joe Chapman three-pointer instigated a 9-0 Eagles burst to take the score out to their biggest lead of the first half at 32-52. The Riders kept themselves in contention at as they bagged nine of the last thirteen points of the first half to trim the score back to 41-56 heading into the locker rooms at the half.
In the second half the Riders started the stronger with a 14-6 start to trim the gap to seven points at 55-62. The Eagles bagged the next four points before Tack Minor and Jason Johnson combined for a 10-2 Riders burst to trim the deficit to just three points at 65-68. The sides stayed close but the visitors held onto the advantage at 69-74 heading into the final stanza.
In the final quarter both sides traded baskets in the early stages before a three-point-play from Tony Windless and four points from Minor allowed the Riders to tie the game up at 84-84 with four minutes remaining in the game. The Eagles then broke the game open with a 9-1 run to take the score out to 85-93 with ninety seconds remaining. Despite the Riders trimming the deficit to four points at 89-93 the Eagles were able to close out the game from the foul-line.
Charles Smith led the scoring for the Eagles with 21 points, but it was a combination of Minor and Johnson who led all scorers in the game with 29 points a-piece for the Riders.