Newcastle Eagles 112 (31,56,88) (Smith 25, Bridge 21, Smith 18)
Everton Tigers 105 (27,47,74) (Smith 24, Midgley 19, Babalola/Gross 18)
It’s still all to play for in the BBL Cup semi-final between Newcastle Eagles and Everton Tigers after a thrilling first leg on Tyneside, which ended 112-105 in favour of the home side.
The Eagles had seemed well in control when they held a 23-point lead in the fourth quarter, but Tigers came storming back through James Jones and Andre Smith to get the margin back to ten.
And the final blow came with an Ola Babalola three on the buzzer against his former club to trim Eagles’ advantage to just seven ahead of next Friday’s second leg.
The match was a high-scoring affair throughout with Eagles shading the first quarter 31-27 thanks to five late points by Trey Moore. Newcastle finished the second quarter strong too with a 12-2 burst to close the half 56-47 in front.
Eagles blew the match open in the third quarter to lead by 18 (86-68) with 90 seconds left until Tigers reduced the arrears to 88-74 heading into the final stanza.
It appeared that Newcastle would take a healthy lead into the second leg when Andrew Bridge scored 10 consecutive points to take the score out to 104-81 with five minutes remaining.
But Everton wouldn’t lie down and their late surge sets up and exciting game on Friday.
Eagles’ Charles Smith led all scorers with 25, including six from six three-pointers. Andre Smith nearly secured a triple-double for Tigers with 24-points, 13-boards and 8-rebounds.