BBL Cup Semi-Final First Leg
UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders 90 (Bell 29, Schneck 18, O’Reilly 18)
Newcastle Eagles 107 (Huffman 29, Smith 29, Maddox 16)
It’s advantage to BBL Cup holders Newcastle Eagles after they shot down last year’s Final opponent UCP Marjon Plymouth Raiders to move to within touching distance of another appearance in the first showpiece game of the season next month.
It proved to be exactly the right game at the right time for the visitors who were champing at the bit for a real test of their skills and credentials in the wake of a frustrating two-week lay-off followed by last Friday’s stroll past Cheshire.
The Raiders certainly felt the full backlash of an Eagles side that was full of energy and happy to run with the hosts during a frenetic opening period which they won 27-20.
That laid the tone for the game as Plymouth invited the visitors to a shootout, and it was an invitation they would soon regret as the Eagles continued to pile on the agony.
They established a double-figure lead at 54-44 by the interval, and whilst Jeremy Bell was causing a few problems, there was little else for the Tyneside club to worry about during the break.
The Eagles highlighted this by ensuring there was no loss of offensive rhythm when they stepped back onto the court and in fact, they continued to get even hotter as the game unfolded.
Joe Chapman joined the party by converting with a number of three-pointers from an audacious distance and the chance of a victory subsequently evaporated for Raiders who were unable to prevent their rampant opponent surging into a 20 point lead during the final quarter.
And, just when the Eagles threatened to undo some of their excellent work with a slightly sloppy finish, they managed to tidy things up during the closing seconds to both ensure their long journey home was more palatable, and Raiders’ hopes of progressing were left hanging by the finest of threads.
In addition to the sparkling contributions of Huffman and Smith who both claimed 29 points, there were excellent cameos under the basket from Darius Defoe and Kareem Maddox who combined for a highly efficient 35 points and 14 rebounds.
Bell led Plymouth with 29 points for the losing team.