Surrey Heat 78 (F Holmes 20, Raftopoulos 13, T Holmes 12)
Newcastle Eagles 90 (Smith 33, Maddox 26, Defoe/Martin 11)
The Newcastle Eagles kept the pressure on the Jelson Homes DMU Leicester Riders at the top of the BBL Championship table thanks to a hard-fought 78-90 victory over the Surrey Heat at Surrey Sports Park on Sunday afternoon.
The visitors started strongly thanks to a 13-4 opening to the contest. A Sam Cricelli basket bought the home side back to within seven points at 10-17 with two minutes remaining in the period, but the Eagles maintained their advantage to end the quarter leading 14-22.
In the second period, a Caylin Raftopoulos three-pointer sparked the Heat into life as they bagged the opening seven points of the quarter to get back to within a single point at 21-22. The game remained close but the Eagles began to stretch away as the quarter went on and a 7-0 burst took the score out to 32-43 with two minutes left in the half.
Baskets from Travis and Chavis Holmes to end the half saw the Heat trim the deficit back to six points as the teams headed into the locker rooms with the visitors ahead 38-44 at the half.
In the second half, the Heat closed the gap to just one point at 43-44 early in the third period, but they could not overhaul the visitors as the Eagles enjoyed a 9-2 burst to take the score out to 45-53 midway through the quarter. The rest of the period saw both sides trading baskets and the Eagles were able to hold onto their advantage as they lead by seven points at 56-63 heading into the final stanza.
In the final quarter, a Charles Smith three-pointer stretched the Eagles lead out to 10 points at 56-66, but back-to-back three-pointers from Travis Holmes and Raftopoulos helped the home side get themselves right back into the contest at 64-66 with eight minutes left in the game.
That was however as close as the Heat would get in the contest as the Eagles held off their best efforts and a 10-2 burst midway through the final quarter gave the visitors their biggest lead of the game at 14 points with the score at 67-81. The home side tried valiantly to get themselves back into the game, but were unable to do so down the stretch as the Eagles held on for the all-important victory.
Smith (pictured) was the main star on the points board for the Eagles as he netted an impressive 33 points in the victory, while 20 points from Frank Holmes was the bright spark for the Heat in the defeat.