Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 86 (13,35,50,66) (Cooke 29, Martin 17, Gause 13)
Worcester Wolves 74 (14,32,53,66) (Owumi 16, Taylor 13, Schreiber 11)
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle have gone top of the BBL Championship table after producing one of the best ten-minute spells of the season to overcome the incumbent Worcester Wolves by 86-74 after overtime, live on BBL TV.
It’s now three straight wins for the Eagles, who remain unbeaten at home, and a first defeat in three for the Wolves, who will take scant reward from the fact that they are the only team to keep Newcastle under 100 points in the last month.
Overtime was a fitting outcome, given that the teams were rarely separated by more than one basket in this game. Scott Martin and Andreas Schreiber traded blows early on, the Wolves leading 13-14 after the opening ten minutes, and the teams were still tied at 24 in the second stanza. Despite a 9-0 burst from the Eagles, the Wolves pegged them back to 35-32 at the half courtesy of four consecutive free-throws from Will Creekmore after a technical foul was called on Charles Smith. The Eagles were looking inside for everything, with 22 points in the paint and 12 points off turnovers, but shooting 0/7 from beyond the arc.
The game turned in the second half, as the Wolves scored 10 in a row at the end of the third quarter to take the lead at 48-53, with Zaire Taylor scoring all of those including back-to-back three-pointers. Wolves carried that momentum into the fourth as they scored the first eight points, including five for Daniel Belgrave, and their lead became 11 points at 50-61.
But from there the Eagles staged a momentous comeback, inspired by Malik Cooke (pictured) and Paul Gause, in front of a raucous home crowd. Gause started it before Cooke hit consecutive three-pointers to get it back to a one possession game at 60-63 heading into the last three minutes. The Wolves might still have thought that they had enough to see the game out, but for Darius Defoe scoring four points in the final minute, before Gause stayed calm to net 2/2 on the line with four seconds remaining to force overtime.
The Eagles stormed the overtime period as Gause opened with consecutive triples and Cooke added another in an 11-0 surge. It was a 22 point swing in nine minutes, with the Eagles led by Cooke’s 29 points on the night.