BBL Championship

Newcastle Eagles 104 (22, 59, 84) (Defoe 22, Fletcher 18, Jones 17)
Leicester Riders 81 (21, 43, 63) (Wright 18, Rowe 13, Lamble 8)

League leaders Newcastle Eagles made a real statement of intent on Friday, overpowering title rivals Leicester Riders 104-81 at Sport Central.

The result ended Riders’ eight-game winning streak and ensured Eagles remain on top, two points ahead of Worcester Wolves in second.

This was the first meeting between the reigning champions and Rob Paternostro’s third-placed Riders this term, following six games last season – with all three BBL Championship contests settled by two points or less.

The early stages of this encounter suggested a similar battle lay ahead, but a 7-0 spurt early in the second quarter, capped by Stuart Thomson’s three-pointer, set the tone for a 37-point period for Eagles, and they never looked back.

The lead continued to grow into the second half as Fab Flournoy’s men were sent to the line time and again, making their visitors pay.

The Leicester club made the hosts work for the win, but could never eat into the deficit with Darius Defoe dominating inside with 22 points and 11 rebounds, seven of his points coming from the free-throw line.

Andre Jones, Rahmon Fletcher, Charles Smith, Andrew Thomson and Stuart Thomson also scored in double figures with the game played at a high pace.

TrayVonn Wright led Riders with 18, but too many of his team-mates struggled to get going.