Mersey Tigers 80 (15,31,53) (Aliu 19, Hesson 16, Davis/Bailey 13)
Newcastle Eagles 94 (27,45,70) (Defoe 31, Chapman 18, Gause 14)

Newcastle Eagle maintained their unbeaten start to the BBL Championship season with a 94-80 win at the current title holders Mersey Tigers.

The two clubs battled it out for league honours last year but there was only going to be one winner after a red-hot start by Newcastle saw them open up an early 10 point lead.

Darius Defoe was unstoppable in the paint with 31 points and 18 rebounds to lead Eagles to victory.

The Eagles are notoriously fast starters and against last season’s triple trophy winners they were standing by that reputation. A Darius Defoe two made it a 10-point game at 17-7 as the first quarter ended with Eagles holding a 27-15 advantage.

Tigers reduced the deficit early in the second quarter with a 5-0 run, but the rest of the half belonged to the visitors. Paul Gause put Eagles 38-24 up and the margin was still the same at the interval (45-31) as Newcastle ended the half on a 7-2 tear.

There was no let up at either end of the court by Newcastle after the break. Two from the charity stripe by Charles Smith ended an 11-3 run, which gave Fab Flournoy’s team a 56-34 lead.

It was their biggest margin of the quarter as Tigers slowly reduced the deficit to 70-53 heading into the final stanza.

Newcastle never let their lead slip below the eventual finishing margin of 14 throughout the fourth quarter to make it eight wins from eight BBL Championship matches so far this season.