Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 129  (Cooke 27, Martin 24, Gause 22)
Birmingham Knights 70  (Benson 22, Gayle 15, Rolls-Tyson 11)

Esh Group Eagles Newcastle made it three wins in a row, taking a share of top spot/second in the BBL Championship, after comprehensively sweeping aside Birmingham Knights by 129-70 at Sport Central. It leaves the Knights with two defeats from their opening two games, both on the road and against last season’s top two; they now look forward to hosting One Health Sharks Sheffield tomorrow, currently joint-top/second with the Eagles.

Amazingly, all five of the Newcastle’s starters recorded double-doubles: Malik Cooke leading with 27 points and 14 rebounds, Scott Martin with 24 & 16, Drew Lasker with 17 and 10, and 21 and 12 for Darius Defoe (pictured); while Paul Gause had 22 points and 11 assists.

The hosts raced into a 5-0 lead, all scored by Gause, only for the Knights to take their only lead of the game as Brent Benson hit a triple and Michael Gayle made an ‘and-one’ play. But Gause was there again shortly afterwards with an old-fashioned three-point play to make the score 12-6, and they didn’t stop there: Lasker hit five in a row and Defoe added five in what became a 23-4 run with the Eagles marauding. They never looked back, leading 55-34 by the half with Martin the first to his double-double, with 16 points and 11 boards.

The Eagles rediscovered their irrepressible scoring groove in the third period, racking up 21 points in five minutes as Cooke’s five in a row pushed the lead through 30 points at 76-45. They went on to score 41 in the third, falling just four points short of what would have been a remarkable thirty-minute century, with the score at 96-51. The score went through 100 after a minute of the fourth quarter, and the lead peaked at 124-60. They scored 80 points in the paint at 35 points off turnovers, after 17 steals.