Newcastle Eagles needed all their championship winning experience to escape from a tough looking away match at Guildford Heat with a win.
As he has done on so many occasions it was Charles Smith (pictured) who hit the biggest shot of the game with a three in the final 15 seconds that put a halt to Heat’s last gasp run.
Heat had cut a Newcastle eight point lead to just two before Smith’s three put the game beyond their reach.
Guildford began well as threes from Carlos Medlock and Ralph Hegamin helped the home team to a 16-10 lead. Eagles responded to tie the match at 18-18 and 20-20 but a 5-0 Guildford run closed the first quarter to make it 25-20.
Eagles, through Reggie Jackson, quickly seized control. The point-guard scored six points in a 12-2 start to the second quarter. And despite Heat trimming the margin to one (34-35) a Medlock technical foul led to a 4-0 burst to take Eagles 35-42 up.
The rest of the half belonged to Heat as Martel McLemore drained a three to kick-off a 15-6 run up to the interval which gave the home team a 50-48 lead.
Neither team could put together a decisive run during the third quarter. Heat twice led by six but Newcastle worked hard an eventually held a 67-71 lead before Hegamin’s three made it 70-71 at the buzzer.
After swapping the lead several times to begin the final period Newcastle through a 10-0 run, which saw Jackson score eight points, went 82-90up. A 9-3 Heat burst brought it back to a two point game.
But Smith had the last word with a deep pull-up three to the Eagles home to the north east happy.
Guildford Heat 91 (25,50,70) (Hegamin 25, McLemore 20, Medlock 19)
Newcastle Eagles 96 (20,48,71) (Jackson 33, Smith 20, Moore 14)