Newcastle Eagles maintained their lead at the top of the BBL Championship table thanks to a hard fought come-from-behind 94-97 victory over the UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders at the Plymouth Pavilions on Sunday afternoon.
A Jerome Gumbs “three-point play” had the home side trailing by just a single point at 90-91 with 56 seconds remaining in the game. Both sides traded baskets before a Lehmon Colbert Jnr. bucket for the Raiders kept the deficit at a single point at 94-95 with 11 seconds left. A foul by Anthony Rowe with six seconds remaining sent Charles Smith to the line and he held his nerve for the Eagles and bagged both of his free-throws to give the visitors a 94-97 lead.
The Raiders had the opportunity to get a shot off at the end of the game, but a Reggie Jackson steal off Gumbs ended the game and handed the visitors the victory.
Earlier in the game the Raiders began the game much the stronger side and a 21-7 burst towards the end of the opening quarter gave the home side a comfortable 27-14 lead which they held onto to end the first quarter leading 29-18.
In the second quarter the home side kept themselves in front through the early goings and led by as many as 16 points at 39-23, however the Eagles began to claw their way back into the game and a 14-2 burst from the visitors midway through the period trimmed the deficit right back to just three points at 46-43. Both sides traded baskets for the remainder of the half with the home side just able to keep their noses in front and lead 52-48 heading into the locker rooms at the half.
In the second half it was a complete reversal of fortunes as it was the Eagles who started the half the stronger thanks to a 11-3 start to the third quarter to give the visitors the lead at 57-61. The Raiders tried desperately to get themselves back into the game, but they were unable to find the same offensive efficiency as the Eagles continued to extend their lead thanks to a 12-3 burst to take the score out to 62-74 and they maintained their lead at 66-76 heading into the final stanza.
In the final period the home side tried valiantly to get themselves right back into the game and an 11-2 tear midway through the quarter trimmed the deficit to just a single point at 81-82 before the fireworks of the closing stages.
Gumbs led the scoring for the Raiders with an impressive 25 points for the Raiders, but it was Smith who led all scorers in the game with 26 points for the Eagles.
UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders 94 (29,52,66) (Gumbs 25, Colbert Jr. 22, Rowe 18)
Newcastle Eagles 97 (18,48,76) (Smith 26, Moore 22, Jackson 19)