Newcastle Eagles 98 (23,47,64) (Defoe 26, Cooke 25, Smith 17)
Plymouth University Raiders 71 (15,33,55) (Robinson 17, George 11, Hines 8)
Newcastle Eagles have taken a share of third place in the BBL Championship after beating Plymouth University Raiders 98-71 to make it six straight home wins, stretching back to October. Darius Defoe (26) and Malik Cooke (25) combined for more than half of their points on a night when the Eagles destroyed their opponents on the inside, scoring 62 points in the paint and needing just one three-pointer all game.
The Eagles were fast out of the blocks and rarely looked back, going straight to the inside with Defoe and Smith opening with ‘and-ones’ on the way to a 17-4 lead; Defoe (pictured) repeated that later in the run to draw a second foul on Hines and forcing him out of the game. The Raiders had their brightest spell in the game as Donald Robinson and Nick George narrowed the gap, before Louis Sayers opened the second stanza with a three-pointer to get the score back to 23-18.
But on the run up to half time Smith and Cooke, with seven points each, edged the Eagles back into a double-digit lead at 47-33 in a 13-4 scoring spell. The Raiders weren’t helped by the fact that they were shooting just 2/17 from three-point range, with George 0/5, as they tried to catch up, and they made little initial progress in the third quarter.
That was the case until Robinson ended the quarter with a triple as Plymouth scored the last five. But they didn’t manage to build any momentum as Newcastle turned to their renowned defence in the fourth, not allowing the visitors a basket for the first two minutes and scoring seven straight points, including another ‘and-one’ for Defoe. And they went on to dismantle their opponents down the stretch, winning the fourth 34-16.