Guildford Heat 96 (21,47,70) (Martin 26, Harrison 16, Sandell 15)
Newcastle Eagles 100 (25,55,79) (Smith 30, Moore 23, Bridge 15)
The Newcastle Eagles signed off their BBL Championship winning regular season with a 96-100 win over the Guildford Heat. That condemned the Heat to fourth place in the table and an eighth clash of the season with the Airwaves Plymouth Raiders in the playoff quarter-finals.
Interestingly, it was in this fixture last year that the Eagles won the BBL Championship, late in the season at The Spectrum. The Eagles were led by Charles Smith’s 30 points, with Trey Moore on 23. Mike Martin led the Heat with 26 points and 7 rebounds.
The Eagles edged the first quarter after a tight opening to the game that saw six lead changes in the opening exchanges. Fab Flournoy and Andrew Bridge had made early three-pointers, before three Mike Martin points put the Heat 11-8 in front. From there the Eagles scored the next eight points, to lead 11-16, and two further Charles Smith baskets maintained that margin until the final two minutes of the quarter. The Heat snatched the lead back at 21-20 as Keonta Howell sparked a quick 6-0 burst, only for the Eagles to score the last five points as Smith connected on a three-pointer on the buzzer.
The Eagles halted an early Heat run to extend their lead in the second period. Martin scored all of the points in a 7-2 tear that gave the Heat a 31-30 edge; that was stopped by Bridge’s three-pointer, which sparked a 7-0 run. The teams traded baskets to end the half with the Eagles in the ascendancy at 47-55. Martin scored 13 points in the quarter to keep his team in the game, while Smith scored 9 for the Eagles and Sam Attah came from the bench to hit a late three-pointer.
The Heat could make no headway in the third period as they were largely kept at bay by Charles Smith once more. The veteran forward had 12 points in the period on his way to a season-high total. The Heat were within five points at 60-65 after five points in a row from Howell, before their leading scorer fouled out of the game. But they could get no closer and the Eagles could not push the lead into double digits, although they led by 9 points on five occasions in the third quarter.
The Heat scored the first two baskets of the fourth to commence their late challenge. They had it back to within one possession at 83-86 with 2.47 remaining but that was as close as they would get.