BBL Championship Newcastle Eagles 100 (27,55,74) (Chapman 23, Smith 21, Thomson 21)
Prestige Homes MK Lions 88 (25,45,69) (Crawford 25, Bolds 22, Northern 15)
Newcastle Eagles opened up some early daylight in the race for the BBL title after moving to four wins from four games after a hard fought success at Sport Central against Prestige Homes MK Lions.
Despite their recent hammerings, Lions produced an encouraging performance and actually started very brightly.
They kept pace with the hosts for the most part and in an entertaining first quarter, were unlucky to find themselves 27-25 behind. Central to the visitors managing to keep up with Eagles were the respective performances of Demarius Bolds and Howard Crawford who shared 16 points in the period.
However, things quickly unravelled at the start of the second period when the Eagles went into overdrive as Joe Chapman began to find his range. He helped his team post a 17-4 run which took the Eagles into a double digit lead.
The shooter poured in 15 points during the quarter as his team left the floor at the interval 55-45 ahead and they looked to be out of sight until Lions came our roaring at the start of the second half.
They scored 10 of the first 11 points to get within a point and cause the Eagles to sweat and call time-out early in a bid to stop the rot. They answered in fine style with 9 unanswered points to re-establish control but again Lions wouldn’t lie down.
They worked tirelessly with Northern, Bolds and Crawford all continuing their impressive performances as they cut the arrears in half to just five points at 74-69 going into the final quarter.
Unfortunately for Mike New, the lead was back to double figures inside the first two minutes of the fourth although hope remained with the Eagles in foul trouble as Andy Thomson and Fab Flournoy skated the thin ice of playing on four fouls.
Lions continued to hang around and had home nerves shredded as they made it a one shot game with just under two minutes to play but the home team held their nerve to seal the win and had added satisfaction from seeing Charles Smith back in action after his hamstring injury. The veteran claimed 21 points.
Also crucial to the Eagles’ success were 14 rebounds from Fab Flournoy, another big performance from Andy Thomson and a nice cameo from Andrew Bridge who had 13 points, 5 rebounds and 4 big steals.
Crawford top scored in the game with 25 points while both Bolds and Northern had stellar double-doubles. The former had 22 points and 14 rebounds while the latter recorded 15 points and 18 rebounds.
Paul Gause missed the game for Newcastle with a calf injury.