A short-handed Newcastle Eagles completed a magnificent comeback at Kelvin Hall to emerge victorious after a stunning second half performance rescued them from a 16 point second half deficit.
The visitors headed into the clash knowing the Rocks were in red-hot form and pretty much invincible at Kelvin Hall and the absence of injured duo Fab Flournoy and Joe Chapman made the task in front of them a daunting one.
Charles Smith opened up for the Eagles with the first seven points of the game against his former club and by the midway point of the opening period, a score by Rocks forward Mike Copeland tied things up at 11-11.
While Darius Defoe replied to put the Eagles back in front, it was the home team who sparked a run to ensure they were 28-23 in front heading into the second quarter.
Trey Moore opened the account for the period with a three-pointer but it was to be the Rocks who would have the upper hand leading up until the interval. Ahead 36-33, the home side stepped things up at both ends of the court and the Eagles couldn’t cope. They held Newcastle to just three further points in almost seven minutes which gave them a 50-36 advantage heading into the locker rooms.
Without the perimeter threat of Chapman or defensive intensity of Flournoy, it looked a long way back for the visiting team but stand-in Coach Dave Forrester got his players re-focused as they launched an amazing comeback.
They did at least have the offensive production of Charles Smith to count on with his 18 first half points and they needed someone else to really step up. That man turned out to be Trey Moore who provided the additional firepower required to drag the visitors back from a 52-36 point deficit early in the third quarter.
While the Eagles worked tirelessly to reduce the arrears, it was still a double-digit margin at 66-55 heading into the last ten minutes but that was when Moore in particular truly come alive to eventually end up with ten crucial points in the quarter.
Smith was also still going along nicely and back to back baskets made it 67-63 with less than six minutes of the game remaining. With just under two minutes left, the Eagles finally tied things up from the line at 73-73 through Moore and that is where the game was won.
The former league MVP scored the last six points of the game to wrap up a super road success although the Eagles did have to survive Rocks having the last possession to potentially win the game which they failed to execute.
Smith and Moore combined for 57 points for the Eagles while Darius Defoe claimed a double-double 15 points and 10 rebounds. Nick Livas led the way for Rocks with 20 points although that will be little consolation after throwing away a glorious opportunity to share top spot with their rivals.