BBL Championship
Esh Group Eagles Newcastle 94 (16,45,66) (Defoe 18, Gause 18, Cooke 16)
Plymouth University Raiders 74 (17,31,52) (George 22, Eaves 15, Sayers 15)

Esh Group Eagles Newcastle closed the gap to the BBL Championship leaders Worcester Wolves to the minimum, after celebrating a 94-74 victory against Plymouth University Raiders on Friday evening.

Following the win, the Newcastle club improved to a 19-5 record and are only one win away from the league’s top club.

Neither side managed to get an upper hand in the early-game tussle, exchanging quite a few leads, before Eagles shot ahead at the end of the second period, closing the half with a powerful 14-1 stretch.

Darius Defoe and Paul Gause provided a much-needed scoring spark off the bench, combining for 26 points in the first half, as the hosts established a 45-31 lead after two quarters. Raiders had got within seven points (51-44) in the third quarter, but Malik Cooke scored seven points in a row, as Eagles won a 10-0 stretch to pull away to a 62-45 lead.

The fourth quarter remained merely a formality, as Eagles cruised to an easy win, outscoring their opponents 58-34 in the post and grabbing 42 rebounds, while Raiders only had 28.

Darius Defoe and Paul Gause scored 18 points each, with the latter also grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out five assists. Malik Cooke added 16 points, six boards and six assists.

Nick George’s game-high 22 points didn’t save Raiders from another loss, while Louis Sayers and Ben Eaves added 15 points apiece.